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News >  Nation/World

U.N. official admits AIDS victory distant

Nick Wadhams Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations’ top HIV/AIDS official acknowledged at a conference Thursday that it was no longer realistic to hope that the world will meet its goal of halting and reversing the spread of the pandemic by 2015.

Peter Piot, head of the U.N. campaign to combat AIDS, told reporters that it was still “possible” to reach that goal and some countries would get control of the disease.

But HIV/AIDS is spreading much faster than efforts to rein it in crucial regions including Eastern Europe and Central America, and stopping the spread isn’t realistic, he said.

“What we are faced with is multiple epidemics and that the epidemic is still expanding,” Piot said. “We are actually still moving into the globalization of the AIDS epidemic.”

The remarks were a rare case of a U.N. official admitting that at least one of the Millennium Development Goals – a host of aspirations world leaders laid out in 2000 to be achieved by 2015 – probably won’t be met. World leaders frequently say that other goals on development, tackling poverty, and ensuring universal elementary education will be tough to meet.

The daylong conference is being held to review progress toward meeting targets set at a U.N. General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS in 2001 to start tackling the crisis.

A few hours before Piot spoke, Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned the conference that the AIDS epidemic is accelerating on every continent. He noted that just 12 percent of the people who need antiretroviral therapies in poorer countries were getting them.

Piot said the global fight against AIDS is seeing its first signs of success in Africa, which has been hardest hit. But he said the $8 billion being spent this year to combat the disease must be doubled to between $14 billion to $16 billion annually.

Delegates at the conference were urged not only to provide more funding, but consistent funding so that people with the disease know that their treatment won’t be cut off for lack of cash.

Piot said there is now a $7 billion to $8 billion shortfall in fighting AIDS.

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