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UN marks World AIDS Day with call to action
Updated: 2005-12-02 09:40

The UN marked World AIDS Day with a call for an "exceptional" response to the pandemic now affecting a record 40.3 million people, as the European Union and United States differed over how best to halt the spread of the disease.

Achievements in raising the profile of the AIDS threat left no excuses for failure to directly combat the disease, said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Over the past decade "the world has made considerable progress in the fight against AIDS. It has also made considerable promises," Annan said.

"The time has come to keep them," he added.

After more than 20 years of research into the disease, no cure has been found for the disease, which is spread by sexual intercourse and the sharing of needles by drug addicts. Clinical trials are being carried out on more than 30 vaccines, though none are available yet.

UN General Assembly president Jan Eliasson complained that the "woefully slow" international response to the AIDS crisis would prove to be a scar on the conscience of an entire generation.

Indian volunteers march through the country to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, in New Delhi.
Indian volunteers march through the country to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, in New Delhi. [AFP]
"This vast human tragedy is all the more unacceptable because it could have been avoided," Eliasson said in an address to be delivered later Thursday at an event in New York.

The European Union and the US government however differed on how to face the crisis.

In a statement released in London, which holds the rotating EU presidency, the 25-member bloc highlighted the importance of sex education, condoms and access to sexual health services.

The United States backs the "ABC" programme, which stands for abstinence, be faithful and use a condom if necessary.

The EU "firmly believe that to be successful, HIV prevention must utilise all approaches known to be effective, not implementing one or a few selective actions in isolation."
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