Global leaders call for action on AIDS

PARIS, Dec 1, 2007 (AFP) – Activists and global leaders used World AIDS Day Saturday to warn against complacency in fighting the disease and called on governments to fill a multi-billion-dollar funding gap. In Haiti, the country with the greatest number of HIV infected people in the Americas (190,000) after Brazil, despite a relatively small population, HIV clinics were opened in the impoverished Caribbean country’s capital. “We have made tangible and remarkable progress on all these fronts. But we must do more,” United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a message for World AIDS Day.

The highlight of events across the globe was a concert in Johannesburg organised by Nelson Mandela’s 46664 AIDS campaign group, named after his prison number from his 27 years in jail during South Africa’s apartheid regime.

An estimated 50,000 people attended the concert of local and foreign artists, ranging from Peter Gabriel to Ludacris, broadcast to millions around the world.

Mandela himself put in a rare appearance, and the crowd erupted in screams before falling silent as the 89-year-old urged people to stand up and take the fight against AIDS into their own hands.

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