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Tuesday, November 09, 1999, updated at 09:55(GMT+8)
World UN Calls for Stronger Commitment to AIDS Control in Central America

The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has called on governments in Central America and the Caribbean to bear stronger political commitment to fighting AIDS.

"In the absence of an effective vaccine we have little choice but to drastically scale up our efforts based on lessons learned and to do everything we possibly can to slow the AIDS epidemic," said Olavi Elo, Director of the UNAIDS Department of Country Planning and Program Development.

Speaking Monday at the opening of the first Central American Congress on Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS in San Pedro Sula of Honduras, Elo warned that without political commitment stretching from national to community levels, there would be no effective program and no lasting support.

Over 1.4 million HIV-infected persons live in Latin America with an additional 330,000 in the Caribbean, according to the UNAIDS. The alarming situation there has led the UNAIDS governing body to recommend at its June 1999 meeting that these areas are considered priority regions.

In Central America, 17,222 cases of AIDS had been reported by August 31, 1999, with a marked increase among heterosexuals, who make up 56 percent of the total, said the UNAIDS.

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