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UN Envoy Says Donor Failure Threatens Plan To Fight AIDS


UNITED NATIONS (AP) -The U.N. envoy charged with combating AIDS in Africa warned that the failure of wealthy nations to respond to an appeal for $200 million could sabotage plans to provide 3 million HIV-infected people with drugs by the end of 2005.

Stephen Lewis, the secretary-general's special envoy for HIV/AIDS on the continent, said the plan offers "the best chance we've had in more than 20 years to turn the pandemic around," but the abysmal donor response means there isn't money to implement it.

The World Health Organizations needs the $200 million to train 100,000 people, establish supply lines, and upgrade health systems so the 3 million sufferers can get drugs before 2005 ends under the so-called "3 by 5 plan," he said Wednesday.

"There has never been a more determined plan of action," Lewis said. "If 3 by 5 fails, as it surely will without the dollars, then there are no excuses left, no rationalizations to hide behind, no murky slanders to justify indifference. There will only be the mass graves of the betrayed."

So far, he said, only Britain, Spain and Sweden have indicated "a willingness to consider some relatively modest sum."

He said he has not been able to determine why the response has been so poor.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of the world's 30 richest countries, has "to cough up the money," Lewis said. "No one is exempt."

"Twenty million people are already dead, 3 million people are begging for the right to cling to life, another 3 million are behind them, and millions more after that -and we can't raise one-tenth of 1% of what we're spending on war and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, to break the back of the pandemic," Lewis lamented.

"How do we explain it to the generations of the future?"

Virtually every African country with medium to high prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS has a treatment plan in place and has done some training, and many have some outside money, Lewis said.

"What they need is exactly what the World Health Organization can provide: the capacity to give overall coordination and direction so that the treatment regimens succeed," he said.

"It would be the first time the world could thumb its nose at the apocalypse."

But Lewis said without adequate resources to put a universal treatment plan in place, millions of sufferers face "a death sentence."


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Information in this article was accurate in March 4, 2004. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.