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Mandela: Join efforts against AIDS

Mandela: Join efforts against AIDS

Former South African president Nelson Mandela called on donors on Thursday to join efforts to pour billions of dollars into a global fund to fight AIDS. Speaking at an international AIDS conference where the United States has come under fire for its go-it-alone approach, Mandela said donor nations must unite against the killer disease. "We challenge everyone to help fund the fund now," Mandela said in remarks at the conference on Thursday. "In a world that is divided along many lines, we now have a unique opportunity to bring us all together around a common challenge." Funding for the global war on AIDS has dominated debate at the conference, where the United States refused to exceed its current $200 million commitment to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for 2005. The controversy erupted when United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan said the United States should inject $1 billion a year and show the same commitment to fighting AIDS as it does to combating terrorism. The call was promptly rejected. Mandela did not name the United States in his speech, but he said donors need to increase their funding substantially for the Geneva-based fund, a public-private partnership. "Donors need to harmonize their efforts in support of nationally owned plans and frameworks of the recipient nations," he said. Mandela also urged the world to intensify the fight against TB, which kills about two million people each year. TB is a leading killer of HIV-positive people in developing countries. Mandela, a fierce critic of U.S. foreign policy in recent years, is to speak Friday at the closing of the conference where Washington has come under fire for its AIDS policies and for rejecting U.N. calls to give more money to the global AIDS fund. (Reuters)

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