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DEVELOPMENT REPORT - 2008 AIDS Conference Opens in Mexico City

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This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

People carry a gay pride flag during a march in Mexico City on August 2, 2008
People carry a gay pride flag during a march in Mexico City on August 2, 2008

The seventeenth International AIDS Conference opened Sunday in the Mexican capital, Mexico City. About twenty-five thousand people are taking part in the six-day event. They include AIDS researchers, community leaders, policy experts, activists and delegations of young people from around the world.

The conference is expected to call for improvement in the prevention and treatment of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Delegates are also expected to praise the greater ability of patients to receive anti-retroviral drugs. Several meetings at the conference will examine efforts to discover a vaccine to prevent the disease.

Pedro Cahn is one of the leaders of the AIDS conference. He says there is growing support for efforts to guarantee that all people are able to receive HIV prevention and treatment. An estimated thirty-three million people are living with H.I.V./AIDS. About seven thousand people become infected with H.I.V. every day.

There is no cure for AIDS. However, a report last week from a United Nations agency says fewer people are dying because of it. UNAIDS says the number of deaths linked to AIDS dropped to about two million last year. This is two hundred thousand fewer than the number reported in two thousand five.

UNAIDS also notes some major gains in preventing new H.I.V. infections. Such gains are based on changes in sexual behavior and improved government programs. The report also calls for long-term financing to fight the spread of AIDS. This is needed because people with the disease are living longer because of improved treatment.

In Washington last week, President Bush signed legislation promising forty-eight billion dollars over the next five years to battle AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The bill greatly expands the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Mister Bush announced the five-year, fifteen billion dollar program in two thousand three. He has since made it a major part of his foreign policy. Efforts have centered on fifteen nations in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia.

And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss. You can learn more about AIDS and other issues facing developing countries at www.unsv.com.

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