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PARIS – As the UN summit on the Millennium Development Goals opens today in New York, French AIDS activists demonstrated at the National Assembly to recall that France can and must keep its financial promises against this deadly pandemic.

The activists lied down in front of Parliament to symbolize the 25 million deaths that AIDS has caused since the beginning of the pandemic. They displayed a banner reading « Stop short-changing AIDS fight », held up signs « no money, no treatment, » and tied to the Parliament’s gates a 10 meter-long pill reading « Stop AIDS. »

Today in New York Nicolas Sarkozy will present France’s action for developing countries and against the global gap. He will announce in particular the amount of the French contribution to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Fund is the world’s main channel for anti-AIDS finds from rich to poor countries. To continue the world’s progress against AIDS since the last 10 years, and to keep their international commitments, rich countries need to double their respective contributions to the Global Fund. For France, this means doubling from 900 million to 1.8 billion euros over 3 years (to 600 million / year).

Stop short-changing AIDS fight. According to our information, instead of the doubling that is needed, Nicolas Sarkozy will announce an increase of 30%, to 1.2 billion over three years (400 million / year). This is not enough. According to figures published by the Global Fund itself, the difference between a 30% increase and a doubling is counted in the millions of lives: 3 million AIDS patients would be left without care (even though the world could save them) and three million AIDS orphans will be left to fend for themselves.

Despite the economic crisis, France still has the means to uphold its financial commitments. For example, if France taxed its domestic equities, as is already the case in the UK, this would yield an additional 5 billion euros per year. And for comparison, the 600 million requested annually from France for the Global Fund weigh less than 10% of the profits of one French company like Sanofi, or one bank like BNP.

A world without AIDS is possible. Researchers have shown that with access to HIV treatment to all people living with the virus, we can put an end to this pandemic. But the longer we wait, the more people we will have to treat, and the more it will cost!

From an economic standpoint too, investing today at the level required is the most sensible strategy.

With this demonstration at the National Assembly, French AIDS activists call upon the President and Parliament to include in France’s 2011 budget the doubling of the French contribution to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria.