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Australia committed to reducing new HIV infections and fighting emerging diseases in our region.

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AA 07 28 7 April 2007

Australia Committed to Reducing New HIV Infections and Fighting Emerging Diseases in Our Region

On World Health Day the Australian Government recommits to combating the growing threat of HIV/AIDS in our region, the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Greg Hunt, said today.

'With an estimated 8.6 million people in the Asia Pacific region currently living with HIV/AIDS, the Australian Government remains deeply concerned about the debilitating effects of this disease. If current rates continue, the estimated number of people living with HIV in the Asia Pacific could reach 20 million by 2010.'

According to the Asian Development Bank and UNAIDS, the estimated financial cost to countries in Asia would be around $US17.5 billion a year by 2010, if rates of HIV/AIDS infection reported in 2001 continue.

'The Australian Government recognises the serious threat posed by this disease and has committed $600 million in the decade to 2010 to help curb its spread and impact,' Mr Hunt said.

'Australia reaffirmed its commitment to the health security of our region through the launch of its new health policy for development assistance, Helping Health Systems Deliver in August 2006. One pillar of the new policy is working with regional and

international partners to help reduce regional vulnerability to emerging infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, SARS and avian influenza.

'Emerging infectious diseases pose a serious threat to the human and economic development of our region,' Mr Hunt said.

'Emerging infectious diseases seriously stunt the economic and social wellbeing of those they infect by limiting employment prospects and isolating them from communities. The poor are plunged further into poverty.

'Australia has committed $100 million over four years (2006 - 2010) for initiatives to combat the threat of pandemics and emerging infectious diseases in the region. This is in addition to the $52 million provided since 2003. 'Our contribution includes $8 million to the Pacific Regional Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Project to help Pacific island countries deal with the threat of emerging diseases. We are also providing $8 million to the World Bank's Trust Fund for Avian and Human Influenza.

'In addition, we are working with ASEAN, Japan, China and Korea to reduce the economic, social and disease burden resulting from emerging infectious diseases in

our region, through a $5 million contribution over three years. 'Australia has committed $10 million over four years (2006 - 2010) for APEC programs and activities to enhance the region's preparedness and response to emerging infectious diseases,' Mr Hunt said.

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