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Bush Pledges New Money to Fight AIDS

The contribution is to help establish a $7 -10 billion fund to battle that disease with a special focus on Africa where half of today’s 15-year-olds could die from AIDS.

“In a part of the world where so many have suffered from war and want and famine, these latest tribulations are the cruelest of fates,” the president said at a Rose Garden ceremony with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. “We have the power to help.”

Both African leaders welcomed the move, but called on the U.S. and other nations to consider more.

“But with this beginning — and just the beginning, as you have kindly emphasized for the U.S. — all nations, governments, foundations, private individuals and private sector and indeed all human kind who are stakeholders in the health of humanity are challenged and called upon to make contributions,” Obasanjo said.

During testimony before a House subcommittee yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell warned that without dramatic efforts, the AIDS crisis could destabilize the entire region.

“Nations will collapse if we don’t fix these problems,” Powell said

Later this month, Powell will travel to several African nations to see the situation on the ground there.

AIDS activists criticized the amount of the Bush
administration’s pledge.

“It’s criminally small,” David Bryden of the Global AIDS Alliance told the Associated Press. “The United States has got ample money for this and the money has just got to be found — something along the lines of $2.5 billion.”

Of 36 million people around the world infected with HIV, roughly 26 million live in Africa, and of the 23 million people killed by it worldwide, 17 million were sub-Saharan Africans.

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