March 11 (Bernama) — Executive Director of the joint United Nations Program on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS) Michel Sidib said Wednesday here that the current global AIDS epidemic is still very severe and the international community should pay sufficient attention on AIDS prevention and control.

In his speech at a news conference at the United Nations Center, China’s Xinhua news agency cited Sidib, as saying that everyday there are 7,000 people being infected with HIV in the world, of which 1,500 are in the southern African region.

Due to lack of effective treatment for pregnant women, about 400,000 babies are born with HIV each year, he said.

According to him, the global annual funding needed to fight against AIDS has exceeded US$16 billion.

About 4.7 million AIDS patients across the world are receiving treatment. Although this figure is already 10 times as much as five years ago, there are still 11 million HIV-infected people who are not properly treated.

Executive Director of the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa, said drug consumption contributes to the spread of AIDS.

Currently the global injection drug users reach about 3 million. In some countries, even 40 percent of injecting drug users is HIV infected, said Costa.

During the news conference, the President of the International AIDS Society (IAS), Julio Montaner, urged the international community and governments to further strengthen the research and capital investment for more effective prevention and control of AIDS.

The international AIDS conference “AIDS 2010” will be held from July 18 to 23 in Vienna, the capital of Austria. Some 25000 delegates from all over the world are expected to attend the meeting. — BERNAMA

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