CAFOD director Chris Bain has welcomed the announcement of a joint US/UK taskforce on HIV/AIDS as "very encouraging." Following his meeting with President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair this afternoon, Mr Bain said that for the first time, the US and UK governments seemed committed to work in partnership with the governments and civil societies of African countries affected by the HIV pandemic. The taskforce will initially target five African countries severely hit by HIV/AIDS, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zambia, Kenya and Uganda. It will work hand in hand with the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria. "This afternoon's meeting saw a sea change in how the US and UK governments approach the issues raised by HIV/AIDS. There was a strong feeling that both governments are willing to listen to their African counterparts and treat the issue of HIV/AIDS holistically. HIV/AIDS is not just a health issue, it is a poverty and justice issue and that was recognised by those present in the meeting this afternoon. Hillary Benn called the initiative a "meeting point of huge obligations to act and huge opportunities to act." He said that leadership must come from all levels of African society and that this leadership would be supported by the US and UK governments. President Bush reiterated his pledge to spend $15billion on HIV care and prevention work over five years. However African leaders answered that the funds promised are not enough to tackle the HIV pandemic effectively.
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