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Monday, 12 July 2004

Church welcomes boost to HIV funding

Uniting Church National President, Rev. Dr Dean Drayton, today welcomed a doubling of Australian Government funding to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS.

“We applaud the Government for committing an extra $300 million to combat the virus in the Asia-Pacific region – a region where last year 1 million people were infected and half a million people died.

“While infections have been relatively stable in Australia, the Uniting Church has constantly made the point that Australia has an obligation to the rest of the world, especially our neighbours in the Pacific.

“Two of our National Directors wrote to the Prime Minister late last year urging for an increase in the level of government funding to combat HIV/AIDS.”

“Australia has been a leader in tackling HIV/AIDS in our own country and this new funding sends a message that Australia takes its role in the region seriously and is prepared to commit to working for a better future.”

“It’s heartening that the Government has listened to groups like the Uniting Church and committed to a new strategy at the Asia/Pacific Ministerial Meeting
on HIV/AIDS,” Rev. Drayton said.

UnitingJustice Director, Rev. Elenie Poulos, who co-signed last year’s letter to the Prime Minister, said the Government’s latest commitment in the local region would help to reduce the number of new infections.

“Poverty increases the likelihood of HIV infection and poverty combined with the stigma that is often associated with infection means that treatment is often out of the question for many people.”

“Over 7 million people living in the Asia/Pacific region live with HIV/AIDS. Without a positive commitment, our region runs the very real risk of facing a crisis like the one being faced now in Africa.”

“The Church welcomes the announcement of an Australian International HIV/AIDS strategy and looks forward to studying it more closely in the coming days,” Rev. Poulos said.

Media contacts:
Reverend Dean Drayton, 0400 354 237
Reverend Elenie Poulos, 0417 431 853