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12 Million AIDS Orphans

Wealthy nations must boost their spending in the fight against AIDS in Africa because "an entire generation is growing up without parents," a British aid group said Monday.

Twelve million children have been orphaned by AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, said Christian Aid, citing what it said was a United Nations estimate.

The U.N. says 13 million children have lost their mother or both parents to AIDS worldwide, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

"An entire generation is growing up without parents, without teachers, without a future," said Mark Curtis, Christian Aid's head of policy. "World leaders promise a little bit here, a little bit there, but have taken no serious action."

"AIDS is fueled by poverty, and to tackle AIDS we must tackle the poverty that allows it to thrive," he continued.

The group, which is supported by churches in Britain and Ireland, urged the British government to more than double its foreign aid budget, which it estimated at 3.1 billion pounds ($4.38 billion).

It called for all developing countries to meet a U.N. recommendation to devote 0.7 percent of their gross national product to foreign aid.

Currently, the group estimated, 95 percent of the 36.1 million people with HIV or AIDS live in poor countries, including 25.3 million in sub-Saharan Africa.

Christian Aid said AIDS could orphan 43 million children worldwide by 2010, many of them in Africa.

Some African children, the report said, have been orphaned several times over, as those who took over their care after a parent's death also died.

It said changing trade restrictions to boost African exports and canceling debt could help ease poverty.

"But these policies alone will not be enough, and will take time to bear fruit," the report said. "Resources are desperately needed now."

AIDS Around The World
Number of persons infected by region:
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
    25.3 million
  • South/S. East Asia
    5.8 million
  • Latin America
    1.4 million
  • North America
  • E. Europe/Central Asia
  • East Asia/Pacific
  • Western Europe
  • North Africa/Middle East
  • Caribbean
  • Australia/New Zealand
  • A U.N. report issued last year said that by the end of 2000, 36.1 million people would have HIV, the viru that causes AIDS. The vast majority — some 25.3 million people — lived in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Last week, President Bush pledged $200 million to a new global "war chest" to fight AIDS around the world, part of a $7 billion to $10 billion fund U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan wants the world's richest nations and people to supply. The U.S. donation failed to impress AIDS activists; David Bryden of the Washington-based Global AIDS Alliance said it was "criminally small."

    African countries and charities have been working to get life-extending drugs to impoverished, infected people, an effort that occasionally brings them into conflict with drug making companies, who claim that manufacturing generic versions of their drugs violates patent protections.

    Meanwhile, at a recent AIDS conference, some activists said more attention and money needed to be devoted to the hunt for a vaccine. Seth Berkley, president of the New York-based International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, said perhaps $600 million would be required to fund a vaccine hunt through 2007.

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