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21-09-2002, 11:48 PM
MEDIA RELEASE
PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO
THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
THE HON CHRIS GALLUS MP

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AA 02 60 20 Sep 2002

International AIDS Experts Meet in Canberra

The developed world has to take a greater role in the AIDS crisis in developing countries, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Chris Gallus, said today.

'Of the 36 million people living with HIV/AIDS in developing countries, only 230,000 are currently being treated,' she said.

Mrs Gallus was opening an International Roundtable of HIV/AIDS experts at the Australian National University in Canberra this morning.

'Australia's infection rate has now stabilised at one in every 1500, and is much lower than original predictions in the 90s,' she said.

'We have been at the forefront of addressing the issue in terms of education, public health and low-cost treatment.

'As a result, Australia has a special responsibility to help developing countries, and we have HIV/AIDS programs under way, or soon will have, in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, China, Burma, East Timor and Africa.

'We have just concluded successful projects in Thailand, and are about to embark on major regional activity in the Pacific.'

Two years ago, the Federal Government launched a six-year, $200 million global AIDS initiative.

Mrs Gallus said Australia's overseas aid program was concentrated in the Asia-Pacific - home to two-third's of the world's poor - and where 7.5 million people are currently infected with HIV/AIDS.

'More than a million new infections were recorded in our region last calendar year,' she said.

'For our nearest neighbour, PNG, the rate of HIV/AIDS infections is almost five times as high as Australia's at one in every 312. By comparison, in Cambodia it is one in every 77, and in Botswana, one in every 5.'

Mrs Gallus said governments alone could not deal successfully with HIV, and partnerships were required with the private sector, NGOs and community-based organisations.

She welcomed the involvement of Australian pharmaceutical companies in the International Roundtable, and hoped the forum would put forward new ideas on how all these groups could work together to ensure greater access to HIV treatments.

Contact: Craig Bildstien (0407 604437)