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On Sunday, the head of the conference said world leaders lack the political will to ensure that everyone infected with HIV and AIDS gets treatment.

Julio Montaner _ the president of the International AIDS Society and chairman of the AIDS 2010 conference _ said the G-8 group of rich nations has failed to deliver on a commitment to guarantee universal access to AIDS drugs and warned this could have dire consequences.

Montaner’s comments foreshadowed one of the key topics for the weeklong gathering, which organizers say has drawn 20,000 policymakers, experts and advocates.

In 2005, G-8 leaders committed to an Africa-focused package for HIV prevention and treatment that gets “as close as possible to universal access to treatment for all those who need it by 2010.” They reaffirmed that commitment again in 2006.

But a G-8 report from last month’s summit of world leaders in Canada acknowledged that the AIDS treatment targets will not be met by 2010.

According to the World Health Organization, 33.4 million people were living with HIV in 2008. While the number of deaths declined to 2 million in 2008 from 2.2 million in 2004, about 2.7 million new infections still occur each year.

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Associated Press Medical Writer Maria Cheng contributed to this report from London.

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Online:

http://www.aids2010.org/