The world has a great hope to meet its major target of arresting the spread of the AIDS pandemic by 2015 if full emphasis is put on prevention and treatment in coming years, a senior US official said on Thursday.
In an interview with a small group of reporters, US acting global AIDS coordinator Mark Dybul said one of the differences between 2001 and 2005 is that people now believe it is possible to achieve that goal set by world leaders at the 2000 UN summit.
"We've seen that's a possibility. We have seen finally in Sub- Saharan Africa substantial reductions in infections, 25 to 50 percent reductions in countries with generalized epidemics," Dybul said, adding that similar trends were recorded in the Caribbean and parts of India.
"We are seeing reductions across the globe. Now the trick is to get the reductions from 20 percent going down to 12-15 percent, to keep coming down. That's difficult," he said. "But in terms of the goal which is to stop and begin to reverse, we're starting to see that, so there is tremendous hope that we can get there."
To ensure the goal be reached, Dybul said the world must do its utmost to provide treatment for the 40 million people living with the HIV virus that causes AIDS and to prevent new infections.
"We must do everything we can to ensure the 40 million people currently infected with HIV have access to therapies that can extend their lives," he stressed, adding that in the meantime full emphasis should be put on preventing new infections.
Dybul urged other developed countries to follow the suit of the United States to contribute more to multilateral and bilateral efforts in fighting the AIDS epidemic.
He said currently the United States provides 30 percent of the resources of the UN-backed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and is the body's largest contributor.
"We need a larger commitment. We can't get to where we are now, to where we need to be in the future as long as the United States is giving as much as the world combines," he noted.
Dybul denied media reports that the United States was objecting the inclusion into a UN declaration of the language that gays are entitled to AIDS prevention, care and treatment. He said that it is "absolutely untrue that we would oppose the inclusion of such language."
Citing China's enormous technical expertise in AIDS prevention, care and treatment as well as its strong research industry, Dybul also expressed the hope to expand the cooperation between China and the United States in the fight against AIDS.
He said annually the United States commits some US$30 million in its bilateral anti-AIDS program with China. "We work together very closely in technological sharing and partnership so we can learn from each other and expand activities," he said.
Dybul's comments came as the United Nations General Assembly is holding a high-level meeting to review the progress in the combat against AIDS and renew political commitments to confront the disease.
According to a report issued by UNAIDS this week, an estimated 33.4 million to 46 million people were living with AIDS at the end of 2005. An estimated 3.2 million to 6.2 million became newly infected and between 2.2 million and 3.3 million died of AIDS.
The report also showed that there have been a total of 60 million people infected with HIV since the virus was recognized in 1981, and some 25 million of them died.
(Xinhua News Agency June 2, 2006)