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Thousands attend AIDS rally in Austria

- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 20, 2010

VIENNA (AP) - Thousands of AIDS activists rallied in downtown Vienna with singer Annie Lennox Tuesday to demand more rights for people with the disease.

The crowd _ many carrying banners, waving flags and blowing on whistles _ appealed for an end to discrimination and access to treatment for all those infected with the virus.

Gathered in the Austrian capital's famous Heroes Square, or Heldenplatz, the activists also urged governments around the world to increase their funding for fighting the illness.

"We stand here tonight united in solidarity with one voice, one call to action," Lennox said amid loud cheers.

Tuesday night's event _ organized and attended by delegates of a global AIDS conference _ included musical interludes by Lennox, who is a spokeswoman for the U.N. agency fighting HIV/AIDS. Her "SING" campaign raises awareness for AIDS-infected women and children in southern Africa.

"Every one of you counts, every life lost counts, every life saved counts _ we count," Lennox said after leading the crowd in a moment of silence to commemorate those who have died.

Before the rally, activists _ including drag queens and sex workers _ marched through part of the city, some beating drums and chanting "human rights now!"

Amy Derber, a 21-year-old South African who lives in London, said everyone should have access to treatment _ regardless of who they are or how they got the illness.

"Everyone deserves a right to life," Derber said.

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Online:

AIDS conference: http://www.aids2010.org/

SING: http://www.annielennoxsing.com/

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