BANGKOK (Reuters) - Australia raised its spending on HIV/AIDS
projects around the world on Wednesday with a further A$70
million ($41.32 million) added to existing pledges of A$130
million, most of it earmarked for the Asia-Pacific region.
"AIDS strikes people in their most productive years and leaves
millions of orphaned children," Australian Foreign Minister
Alexander Downer said in a statement. "It also disrupts key
sectors such as agriculture, education, manufacturing and
transport," he added.
The six-year initiative, launched while Downer was in Bangkok
to attend a regional foreign ministers security meeting, would
include support for existing projects in Indonesia and Papua
"As a significant amount of funding under the initiative
remains uncommitted, considerable opportunities exist for
further cooperation," Downer said.
Until now, Asia has been more successful in holding the AIDS
virus at bay than Africa, where the disease has killed about 12
million people and left many more infected with HIV.
According to a recent UNAIDS report, only three countries in
Asia--Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand--have HIV infection rates
exceeding one percent among 15 to 49-year-olds. But the low
rates conceal huge numbers of infected people. In India, 3.7
million are infected, more than in any other country except
South Africa. In China, an estimated 500,000 people, mainly
drug users, live with HIV/AIDS.