A quarter of a century after the first case of AIDS was diagnosed, millions of people around the world are still dying from HIV and AIDS. Why? CAFOD is marking World AIDS Day today by calling on the promises made to fight the disease to be honoured. New figures show that an estimated 39.5million people are living with HIV and AIDS, of which 2.3 million of those infected are children and in 2006, 2.9 million people died of AIDS related illnesses. In the past few years there have been new and renewed commitments made by governments, civil society and religious leaders. The G8 Summit promise of universal access to treatment, the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aim to reduce the spread of HIV, and the political commitment from national governments to increase funding at the UN special session on HIV and AIDS. CAFOD says these promises will only remain good intentions unless there is the political will to make them a reality. Access to universal treatment is not yet a reality in Cambodia, one of South Asia's hardest hit countries, with more than 100 new HIV infections reported very day. CAFOD works in Cambodia providing hospice care and anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs). CAFOD partners have also been able to help those who have regained their health because of life saving drugs to earn a living. Universal access to treatment is far from being achieved in Cambodia. Only 14,300 of the estimated 123,000 HIV positive people in the country have access to life saving treatment. CAFOD's HIV and AIDS Specialist Ann Smith said: "HIV and AIDS continue to take a terrible toll across the world, especially among the poorest. We must hold our leaders accountable to the promises they have made, and to hold ourselves and our communities accountable to their statements for action against HIV and AIDS. "These include commitments that international leaders have made for funding and support and that national leaders have made on making healthcare programmes and access to treatment available to all. "The message is for all kinds of leaders from G8 to local community leaders, so that everyone involved can truly honour these promises that ultimately affect the lives of millions of people across the world. "If we want to deliver these promises, faith based organisations are one way to deliver them as they are often working directly with those most affected by HIV and AIDS. CAFOD will continue to deliver high quality programmes of care, treatment and prevention, for the millions of people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS."
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