AIDS groups have welcomed a multimillion-dollar partnership between the Australian government and the charitable foundation of former US president Bill Clinton devoted to fighting HIV in the Asia-Pacific region.Foreign minister Alexander Downer announced the memorandum of understanding with the William J. Clinton foundation this afternoon. The former US president is currently visiting Australia on a speaking tour.Under the agreement, the Australian government will give $25 million over four years to anti-AIDS efforts in regional nations. The William J. Clinton Foundation will donate further funds.Papua New Guinea -“ which is facing an AIDS epidemic -“ Vietnam and China would be the initial beneficiaries, Downer said.The foreign minister also launched a new Australian business group that recognises the economic impact of AIDS and will work to fight the epidemic.The Asia Pacific Business Coalition on HIV/ AIDS includes Australian businesses with strong regional influence including Qantas.Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations national president Ian Rankin said the strategies came at a vital stage of the Asia-Pacific HIV response.As a HIV-positive person I know how important these are for our colleagues with HIV in Asian and Pacific countries and particularly urgently required in Papua New Guinea, he said.The two initiatives announced today confirm AusAID’s shift to a more strategic, systemic and effective approach to responding to the HIV epidemics in the region.

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