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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
Appeal for Free Drugs Made at AIDS Conference

October 31, 2003
Agence France Presse (10.30.03) - Friday, October 31, 2003

An international conference of people living with HIV/AIDS ended in Kampala on Thursday with a call to the global community and the world's governments to help patients obtain free drugs to fight the disease.

"The international community should provide more of these drugs and give accessibility to them than they are currently doing, while national governments should move towards free provision of the drugs," said a conference statement read by Stu Flavell, international coordinator of People Living with HIV/AIDS Global Network.

"The international community has not given as much as they should," said Ugandan army Major Rubaramira Ruranga, who is HIV- positive. Iranian delegate Amir Morada said his country is providing free drugs to 1,000 patients out of the country's 5,000 known cases.

The conference brought together community activists and nongovernmental organization workers to give "new positive leadership" to the AIDS struggle.

On Sunday, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni called on fellow heads of state to exert political leadership in the fight against AIDS. Conference participants included HIV-positive children ages 11-18 who spoke to delegates about their fears, hopes and expectations.

At the start of the conference, Uganda announced that it would provide antiretrovirals to people at a cost of less than 50 cents per day. About 20,000 Ugandans have access to the drugs.