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Germany Pledges 5.4 Billion Dollars for AIDS Fund

Germany will give four billion euros (5.4 billion dollars) over the next eight years to the global fight against AIDS, its development minister said in an interview to be published Thursday.

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul told the Financial Times Deutschland that the new funds were intended to send a message to other member states during the Group of Eight summit in the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm.

"My appeal goes out to the other G8 states to also make other financial pledges," she said. "When we act together the chances of saving human lives are much greater." The new pledge amounts to 500 million euros per year, compared to 300 million euros last year and 400 million euros in 2006.

"Much of the additional funds will cover the protection and treatment of women and girls," she said. Private aid groups complained at the meeting that some member states, particularly Canada and India, were resistant to including any new aid figures in the final summit communique that will be presented Friday.

Nearly two-thirds of all HIV-positive people live in sub-Saharan Africa. The infection risk for girls and women between the ages of 15 and 24 is three times higher than for males.

The G8 has until 2015 to keep its pledge to provide universal access to care and treatment for all HIV patients. Wieczorek-Zeul said that this pledge should also be renewed in the summit communique. And she also promised more German contributions to a global fund for the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

US President George W. Bush asked lawmakers last week to set aside 30 billion dollars over five years to fight AIDS worldwide, doubling the funding for his President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). German Chancellor Angela Merkel is hosting the meeting as the chairman of the G8, which also includes Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.


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