Australia will donate $17 million more to an international initiative that fights HIV/AIDS and other diseases, foreign minister Alexander Downer has announced.Downer said the donation to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria showed Australia’s commitment to fighting the disease in the Asia-Pacific region.The fund has already given 500,000 people access to anti-HIV medication.Last year about 20 percent of all worldwide funding to fight HIV came from the Global Fund.Australia has pledged a total of $75 million to the fund over the four years to 2007.The announcement comes a week after a summit in Brisbane heard about one in 80 people in Australia’s nearest neighbour Papua New Guinea were HIV-positive, The Australian reported.About one person in 1250 is HIV-positive in Australia.Underreporting means PNG health authorities are unaware of the exact figure, but the country has the highest rate of HIV infections in the Pacific.An Australian government report in 2002 found PNG faced an AIDS epidemic, with HIV infections increasing by up to 30 percent each year.

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