PRESS CONFERENCE BY DEVELOPMENT MINISTER OF SWEDEN
Sweden would contribute an additional $60 million to the fight against HIV/AIDS during the next few years, that country’s Minister for Development Cooperation, Migration and Asylum Policy announced today at a Headquarters press conference.
Maj-Inger Klingvall, whose country holds the current presidency of the European Union, told correspondents that most of the $60 million would go to the proposed global fund against HIV/AIDS. Further increases in the amount might be seen, but it was still too early to say. That would depend on how the fund took shape -– how it was designed and what the outcome would be.
The Minister said she had noted an increased openness about AIDS-related issues at the special session of the General Assembly that is currently under way. Causes, spreading and risks had been discussed. However, an even more open atmosphere was needed so that women’s rights to their own sexuality and also men’s responsibility could be discussed.
“In talking about HIV/AIDS we have to talk about vulnerable groups, such as prostitutes, drug injectors and men who have sex with men”, she said. These groups were often marginalized, not just because of their peripheral status but also because of the unwillingness of some to even talk about them. That made it more difficult for them to get protection and prevention.
She noted that the special session was the first time there had been such a high-level debate on the issues. She was confident that the debate would create more openness to discuss and tackle key issues.
The European Union contributed to the fight against the disease in many ways, she said, noting that the Union had the world’s largest fund for development aid. Some 55 per cent of the world’s official development assistance (ODA) came from the Union and some of its countries, including Sweden, were now increasing their ODA.
She noted that in May the Union had launched a programme for action in three HIV/AIDS-related areas, the first of which was improving the impact from existing interventions. The European Community was already a major donor, having contributed €4.2 billion during the period 1990-1999 in the area of health, HIV/AIDS and population development. That figure would increase over the next five years. The fact that the ODA of many Union countries was expected to rise over the coming years meant that the Union would be able to give substantial support to the global fund.
The two other areas that formed the Union’s programme were reducing the price of HIV/AIDS medicine and research and development, she said. She stressed the importance of encouraging viable and sustainable production of medicines to treat AIDS. She called for political leadership to design comprehensive strategies to combat the disease. Poverty reduction, education, openness and courage were essential.
Compassion and solidarity with those affected must be shown. Listening to the victims about what must be done was key. Later in the day she would have an opportunity to hear from HIV/AIDS sufferers at a luncheon sponsored by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
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