United Nations. The United nation today announced that the world would require US $ 22 billion to fight the AIDS pandemic by the year 2008. However, it is not sure from where the countries will get this huge amount.
In its special session to address the issue of AIDS, UN members appreciated the efforts by the Indian pharmaceutical companies producing generic antiretroviral drugs which has lowered the cost of treatment.
The world body estimates that half of the amount would be needed for prevention, an area which has got little attention so far. While a quarter of the amount would be spent for treatment of millions across the world and the remaining money would go towards saving children whose one or both parents are infected with the virus.
But as the General Assembly opened its session, sharp differences erupted at the political level with diplomats virtually deadlocked on the declaration which it is expected to issue at the end of the meeting.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan joined the fray, strongly rejecting the Islamic countries contention that homosexuals, prostitutes and drug users should be excluded from the list of vulnerable groups in the declaration.
"We need to be realistic," Annan stressed in an unusually blunt remark.
"We need to be able to protect the most vulnerable and if we are to try to end the epidemic, we will not succeed by putting our head in the sand. We should help them and we need to resist any attempt to prevent us form recognizing the need for action and assistance," he said.