Britain urges action as Commonwealth shown to have 60% of all new Aids cases
Tony Blair, who arrived at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Durban yesterday brought a report saying 60 per cent of new infections by HIV, the Aids virus, are in Commonwealth countries.
The report showed sub-Saharan Africa has two-thirds of the world's HIV infections in only one-tenth of the population. By 2010, said the report, life expectancy in the nine countries with the highest rate of HIV will have fallen from around 60 years to nearly 40. "Because we have made such progress at home, there is a danger of complacency about the sheer scale of the problem,'' said Mr Blair. "More than 90 per cent of all HIV-Aids cases are in developing countries. This is a disaster in economic, social and human terms."
Parts of the region - Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia - have the highest rates of HIV in the world, equally between men and women. In KwaZulu- Natal, which is hosting the summit, 33 per cent of pregnant women tested positive last year. The UN says there are 100,000 orphans of parents who died from Aids in the province.
Britain's donation is part of a pounds 100m programme, announced earlier this year to tackle Aids worldwide. It includes pounds 14m for vaccine development through a New York- based body which gives grants to researchers in return for partial intellectual property rights when a serum is found.
Victor Zonana, spokesman for the International Aids Vaccine Initiative (Iavi), said: "'A vaccine, even if it takes several years to reach the population, represents the best hope for the developing world.
"It is a route which has been neglected by the pharmaceutical companies because they see it as unprofitable and scientifically tough to achieve, and because the pressure in the industrialised world has been on treatment.''
Iavi, which is also backed by several US foundations, is funding research on two potential vaccines, one in Oxford and the other by researchers in South Africa and the US. Both are in early trial stages and not available for five to 10 years.
Mr Zonana added: `'It is crucial not to abandon preventative work and we must guard against magic bullet-ism. Our concern is the long-term.''
Yesterday, at a small HIV-Aids information centre run by the YMCA in the Durban township of Umlazi, a South African health economist, Alan Whiteside, urged the international community to step up its support for Aids prevention in the developing world.
He trains and sends out township teenagers for peer-education. "Life expectancy is now 55 in KwaZulu-Natal," he added. "Ten years ago it was 65. Every development gain in the last 30 years is being wiped out. In many African countries, the hospitals are overflowing.''
One peer trainer, Vusi Khuzwayo, 20, said misconceptions among young people he met were that Aids could be transmitted on cutlery and men could be cured if they had sex with virgins. "I talk to kids as young as nine and they know little. Their parents do not talk to them and they are afraid their house will be burnt if the neighbours find out."
George Foulkes, the deputy aid minister , said: "In Britain there are 1,600 new cases of HIV infection a year. In KwaZulu Natal there are 1,600 new cases each day."
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 4 Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
- 5 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Greece elections: Greek PM Alexis Tsipras takes aim at 'neo-liberal' Europe as country gears up for prolonged austerity battle
Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
Pornhub star Mia Khalifa receives death threats after being ranked the site's top adult actress
Prince Philip set to be knighted by Australia: Celebrate by reading his greatest gaffes
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We require a teacher of English for this co...
£16000 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...
£20200 - £24800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This number one supplier of Coo...