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Global experts urge continued AIDS funding amid economic hardship | Updated: 2012-07-24 14:03

The international community should step up the fight against HIV/AIDS and ensure the disease remains a funding priority in spite of world economic headwinds, global experts on AIDS said here Monday.

While the global economic crisis has posed financial challenges to countries worldwide, governments, donors and development agencies should continue their funding for HIV prevention and treatment, experts said at a seminar during the ongoing International AIDS Conference.

Funding the pandemic was very important because this kind of investment meant lives, said Festus G. Mogae, former president of Botswana, adding that it should be continued even in hard times.

Investing in the disease was certainly a good thing, as it also "offers an opportunity to bring innovation," noted Michel Sidibe, executive director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS.

Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, said that "it's our job to raise voice for AIDS" despite a tight budget.

Economic hardship has made it all the more important to allocate and utilize AIDS investments as effectively and efficiently as possible, noted Rajiv Shah, administrator of the US Agency for International Development.

Under the theme "Turning the Tide Together," the 19th International AIDS Conference kicked off Sunday, bringing together more than 20,000 delegates worldwide.

The conference is the largest gathering of professionals working in the field of HIV. It plays a fundamental role in shaping the global response to the disease and keeping it on the international political agenda.

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