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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
GLOBAL: US AIDS Coordinator Promises More Money 'in Years
Gilbert da Costa
June 7, 2004
Associated Press (06.04.04) - Monday, June 07, 2004

On Friday, the US global AIDS coordinator visited hospital patients in Nigeria, promising more money to help Africa's most populous nation fight HIV/AIDS. Randall L. Tobias pledged $58 million this year to help fund more than 110 Nigerian government and charity organizations - including around 50 faith-based groups. An estimated 3.5 million of Nigeria's 126 million people are HIV-infected. "There will certainly be more money in the years ahead," said Tobias during a visit to a hospital in Gwagwalada.

Under a Nigerian government-funded program, the hospital already provides drugs to 450 AIDS patients. It is also among Nigerian recipients of the US funding program and is receiving refurbished refrigeration facilities to store antiretroviral drugs. US money, said Tobias, will focus on improving "physical and human infrastructure to address the pandemic." Hospital personnel showed Tobias a three-day old baby found abandoned by its HIV-positive mother. "It's been the pattern we have been seeing these days," said Dora Okechukwu, head of the pediatric section. "HIV/AIDS positive mothers give birth and then they abandon the babies" because of either stigma or the financial burden to the impoverished mother, explained Okechukwu. "We are seeing a gradual build-up and we are very worried," she added.

Tobias also met with President Olusegun Obasanjo Friday morning as part of his three-nation African trip.