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1st Aug 2021

G8 states may cut in half previous AIDS victims pledge

With the G8 summit already seeing low expectations on climate change and development aid goals, initial ideas on how the world's richest countries can help AIDS victims also look set to be watered down.

Meeting in Heiligendamm on Thursday (7 June) for the first full day of talks, the leaders of the eight most industrialised countries (the US, Canada, Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Japan and Russia) are set to tackle several tough topics including Kosovo, Darfur, climate and poverty.

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  • Bush (l) and Merkel (r): G8 risks creating a life or death lottery if it scales down pledge on AIDS funds, charities argue (Photo: g-8.de)

The summit's final conclusions will also refer to the worldwide spread of AIDS and G8 initiatives to help victims, after several leaders highlighted the issue before arriving in Germany.

Mr Bush last week promised to double the US commitment to $15 billion (€11 billion) for the next five years, with Ms Merkel expected to join forces.

Prior to the G8 summit, the European Commission promised €100 million for the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2007, plus a further €300 million over the next three years.

But the summit's draft conclusions suggest the G8 would aim to help "over the next few years... approximately 5 million people" with AIDS by boosting access to "life-saving anti-retroviral treatments." The 5 million figure is half the 10 million goal by 2010 set at the 2005 G8 summit in Gleneagles, the FT writes.

The paper quotes UK and Burundi officials as saying that the cut-back to the universal access pledge would be a disaster for several developing countries and a huge step back from earlier decisions.

Similar alarm was made by the UN special envoy for AIDS in Africa, Elizabeth Mataka, who warned that "Africa will suffer greatly if the commitment is scaled back."

The UN estimates that between 10 and 12 million patients will need treatment by 2010, with the 2005 Gleneagles G8 summit promising to fund access for 80 percent of sufferers, while the 2007 draft plan suggests 50 percent.

According to Action Aid, an anti-poverty NGO, the G8 states are falling behind on funding for the 2005 target by €5.9 billion to €7.4 billion every year, with "some countries [now] seeking to remove the few hard numbers on financing from the text."

"If the wreckers get their way, even peanuts will be off the menu in Heiligendamm. By diluting the universal access target, the G8 risks creating a life or death lottery where only half of the world's people with HIV will win treatment," said the group's head of HIV campaign Aditi Sharma.

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