German Minister Promises Millions in Fight Against AIDS | News and current affairs from Germany and around the world | DW | 14.08.2006
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German Minister Promises Millions in Fight Against AIDS

At the largest-ever international AIDS conference that currently takes place in Toronto, Germany's development minister brought good news on increased funding from Germany.

The AIDS conference focuses on the world's 2.3 million infected children

The AIDS conference focuses on the world's 2.3 million infected children

The German government wants to increase its financial investment in the fight against AIDS and plans to up its contribution from 300 million to 400 million euros ($509 million) starting in 2008, said Minister for Cooperation and Development Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto.

Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, has not yet approved this amount.

The protection of girls and women against the HIV virus should receive more attention, as they are especially threatened by the disease due to discrimination, violence and marginalization, Wieczorek-Zeul said.

"Nearly half of those infected worldwide are women," she said. "Ten years ago it was only percent."

Around 39 million people worldwide are infected with the HIV virus, according to current estimates.

"The next big breakthrough"

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul

"This tragedy must have an end," said Wieczorek-Zeul

The sixteenth AIDS conference, which continues through Friday, is the largest-ever international event on the issue. Some 24,000 delegates from 132 countries are expected, including celebrities like former US-President Bill Clinton, actor Richard Gere and singer Alicia Keys.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates attended the opening of the conference Sunday with his wife Melinda and brought along some good news: a microbicidal gel designed to prevent HIV infection could "be the next big breakthrough in the fight against AIDS," Gates said.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, founded in 2000, contributes to the struggle against HIV-AIDS from its nearly $30 billion endowment.

25 million AIDS deaths since 1981

Like Wieczorek-Zeul, Gates emphasized help for female victims of AIDS and HIV.

"A woman should never need permission from her partner to save her own life," he said, referencing the barriers some women face in developing countries.

Christine Harjes in Toronto Aids-Konferenz

Two women, from South Africa and Canada, welcome guests to the Toronto conference

Wieczorek-Zeul will lead a discussion at the conference this week entitled "Time to Deliver -- For Women and Girls."

Major industrialized nations have committed billions of dollars over the next decade in the fight against AIDS. According to the United Nations, twice that amount is necessary, reported Germany's Focus Online.

Some 65 million people have contracted HIV since it was discovered in 1981 and 25 million have died from it. It is estimated that 11,000 people contract the disease and an addition 8,000 die from it every day.

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