Geneva, 11 May 2001 - UNAIDS welcomes the announcement by the US government to contribute US$ 200 million to a global HIV/AIDS and health fund aimed at fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

UNAIDS applauds the US government's leadership in being the first country to respond to the call made by the UN Secretary-General at the Organization of African States summit in Abuja, Nigeria last month for a global trust fund. UNAIDS estimates that US$ 7-10 billion are needed from all sources annually to combat AIDS in low and middle income countries for an effective response to the epidemic.

UNAIDS hopes that this announcement will give significant momentum to the development of the fund. The US announcement is particularly welcome in the run-up to both the United Nations Special Session on HIV/AIDS, to be held in New York from 25-27 June, and to the summit of the G-8 group of countries, scheduled for Genoa, Italy, in July this year.

AIDS continues to spread worldwide and urgent measures are needed to stem the epidemic. By the end of 2000, 36.1 million people were living with HIV or AIDS, and 21.8 million had died since the start of the epidemic. In 2000 alone, 3 million people died of AIDS-related causes and 5.3 million were newly-infected.

For more information, please contact Dominique de Santis, UNAIDS, Geneva, (+41 22) 791 4509 or (+41 79) 254.6803 (mobile) or Andrew Shih, UNAIDS, New York, (+ 1 212) 584 5024. You may also visit the UNAIDS Home Page on the Internet for more information about the programme ( http://www.unaids.org).

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