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16th International Conference On AIDS, STIs Opens In Ethiopia

The 16th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in Africa (ICASA) opened Sunday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, “with mixed messages of hope and fear,” Afrique en ligne reports, adding, “With about 7,000 people in attendance, the opening ceremony witnessed the celebration of past successes and fear over future uncertainties in funding for HIV/AIDS” (12/4). According to Next, the conference “will provide a platform for effective African solution toward defeating the scourge once and for all” (12/5).

Speaking in a keynote address, former President George W. Bush said, “During lean budget times, the United States and the developing world must set priorities, and there is no greater priority than saving human life,” according to VOA News, which adds he “cautioned that reducing successful humanitarian programs could diminish America’s standing in the world” (Heinlein, 12/4). “Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, said at the opening that Africa is registering remarkable results in reducing AIDS despite pessimistic views from critics some years ago,” but that he is “scared by unfolding events in that funding for HIV/AIDS is decreasing,” Afrique en ligne writes, adding, “Both Bush and Ethiopia’s Premier Meles Zenawi shared Sidibe’s concerns, saying despite the successes, a lot remains to be done to deal with the disease for good” (12/4). “UNICEF is appealing to governments and donors to keep up their support for HIV and AIDS programs across the continent and seize the opportunity to eliminate new infections among children,” according to a UNICEF press release (12/4).