UNITED NATIONS — A UN AIDS summit on Friday adopted a landmark declaration setting a target of treating 15 million people with life-saving drugs and ending the mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015.
But Muslim countries and the Vatican protested over the summit statement which encouraged the use of condoms and called for greater emphasis on help for homosexuals, prostitutes and drug addicts.
"We must win our battle against AIDS and we will," said Joseph Deiss, president of the UN General Assembly, after the declaration was agreed by consensus at the end of the summit for the 30th anniversary of the discovery of AIDS.
About 34 million people around the world have the disease, 1.8 million die from it each year and there are 7,000 new infections each day.
But UN countries committed "to accelerate efforts to achieve the goal of universal access to antiretroviral treatment."
They aim to place 15 million HIV sufferers in the poorest countries on antiretroviral treatment by 2015. The international community currently pays for about 6.6 million to receive treatment, according to UN figures.
The accord also aims to end mother-to-child transfer of HIV by 2015 and increase preventative measures for the "most vulnerable populations."
Health groups have welcomed the declaration, but said the international community must now commit the necessary funds to pay for the targets.
The summit did not make financial commitments. The United Nations estimates the international community will have to find more than six billion dollars a year to get the extra nine million sufferers onto retroviral treatment.
Britain's International Development Minister Stephen O'Brien said the reluctance to commit to firm figures did not mean the targets would not be met.
"Yes it is stretching, yes it is tough and yes it is going to be difficult, it will be a rocky road, but it's worth going for and we are not going to dilute the ambition," he said.
Brazil's Health Minister Alexandre Padilha said: "For us it is important that for the first time, targets have been clearly set such as the elimination of mother to child transmission."
He added: "For us there is no success without access" to drugs.
The final document makes the most explicit reference yet in a UN summit document to the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS and also calls for greater help prostitutes, homosexuals and drug addicts.
There was fierce debate about the references in weeks of negotiations on the final document, with strong opposition from the Vatican and some Muslim nations such as Iran, diplomats involved with the talks said.
Instead of talking simply about the importance of abstinence and fidelity, the statement stresses the "correct and consistent use of condoms."
"It is important to point out the reference to key populations in this declaration such as men that have sex with men, sex workers, injecting drug users," said the Brazilian minister.
Padilha said the rights of transgenders, transvestites and prisoners also had to be defended.
The Vatican's delegate was jeered by activists in the General Assembly, when she opposed the reference to condoms and the "high risk" populations -- prostitutes, gays and drug users.
"They can give the impression that certain types of irresponsible behavior are morally acceptable. The Holy See does not endorse the use of condoms as part of HIV and AIDS prevention programs," said the delegate Jane Adolthe.
Iran's acting health minister, Mohammad Hossein Niknam, said his country would not be bound by summit references to "monoethical behaviors" which run counter to Islamic culture, the minister said.
Syria also complained about the support for vulnerable groups saying it should be left to individual countries to decide who to protect.
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