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Volume 124: debated on Wednesday 16 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to raise the issue of the global implications of AIDS at ministerial level at the United Nations.

On 20 October my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services addressed a special session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on AIDS. To promote ministerial discussion of AIDS we are also organising a world summit of Health Ministers in London from 26 to 28 January 1988.

The World Health Organisation estimates that within five years there will be 100 million cases of AIDS; in the subsequent five years, most of those people will develop AIDS and die. Does my hon. Friend believe that Ministers are adequately seized of the gravity of the problem?

My hon. Friend rightly stresses the enormous scale of the problem. The threat from AIDS is no respecter of territorial integrity. The WHO should play a central role in the battle against AIDS, and we have given it our full support. We have already contributed £3·25 million to its programme, in addition to the £14 million which has been voted for domestic research into a cure for AIDS. It was precisely for the reasons that my hon. Friend gave that we decided, with the WHO, to host the important summit that will take place in London next year. I am delighted to be able to tell the House that so far we have received 94 firm acceptances from Governments, all of whom—with the exception of only seven countries —will be represented at ministerial level.