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India gets $100 million to fight AIDS
  Agence France-Presse
First Posted 09:55pm (Mla time) 12/20/2007
NEW DELHI -- A multilateral fund that wages a global fight against three major diseases on Thursday pledged 100 million dollars to India to supply drugs to AIDS patients and spread awareness about the illness.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, created by the G8 group of industrialized nations in 2002, also gave the Indian government a further 53 million dollars to fight malaria, endemic in the country.
"These funds will be used to provide antiretroviral treatment, voluntary testing and to tackle stigma (against HIV)," fund director Michel Kazatchkine told a press conference in New Delhi.
The 153 million dollars will be distributed over three years. The fund, which is financed mainly by the US and European governments, has approved a total of 747 dollars in grants for India since 2003.
India had some 2.5 million people infected with the virus in 2006, according to a United Nations report, down from estimates of 5.7 million cases in 2005.
The sharp fall in the number of cases reflected better statistical sampling methods, the UN said.
The Indian government's AIDS body National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) said there was still a shortfall in the country's budget of 115 billion rupees (2.9 billion dollars) over the next five years to fight AIDS.
The government will provide nearly two-thirds of the funds, with the rest coming in from donors such as World Bank.
"There is still an opportunity (for more funds). The costs of (drugs) are also coming down," NACO chief Sujatha Rao, declining to put a figure to the shortfall.
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