Brussels, 01 Dec 2003
A report published to coincide with World AIDS Day on 1 December shows that an estimated 40 million people worldwide are now carrying the HIV virus, with some five million individuals having been infected in 2003 alone.
The 'AIDS epidemic update 2003' also reveals that one in five adults in southern Africa are living with the disease, the highest proportion ever recorded.
In response, the European Union is investing heavily in programmes to tackle HIV/AIDS across the globe. Over one billion euro will be spent between 2003 and 2006 within the framework of the EC's programme for action on communicable diseases, which targets HIV/AIDS as well as malaria and tuberculosis (TB).
The programme represents a multi faceted approach to fighting AIDS. Its main aims are to increase the impact of existing interventions, reduce the cost of key pharmaceuticals, boost investment in research to find new treatments, and promote international cooperation.
Under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) some 400 million euro will be spent in two key areas. The European and developing countries clinical trials partnership (EDCTP), which aims to accelerate the development of new therapeutic tools against HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB, will receive 200 million euro, while the same amount again will be directed to basic research on the three conditions.
The EU also funds measures aimed at fighting HIV/AIDS within its own borders, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable groups such as migrants, sex workers, prisoners and young people. In 2004, the Commission will focus on promoting sex education and best practice in HIV prevention. This follows a recent Eurobarometer survey which showed that there is still some confusion among Europeans about possible means of infection.