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Global effort targets AIDS in Third World

An international charity launched a global initiative Monday to help vulnerable communities in the developing world fight the AIDS epidemic.

The London-based International HIV/AIDS Alliance said local groups in six countries on three continents will participate in the interactive program aimed at establishing community-based care and prevention strategies."It will help communities to share ideas and to benefit from the experience of similar groups not only from other parts of the country, but other continents," Jeffrey O'Malley, a spokesman for the alliance, said in a statement.

The initiative will focus on the developing world where 85 percent of people infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS live. Of the 21 million people with the disease, 19 million are in developing countries.

Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ecuador, Senegal and Sri Lanka, which all face a dramatic increase in AIDS cases, have been chosen for the three-year programfunded by government agencies, foundations and the business sector.

The project will identify the needs of the local communities and design programs to suit them.

The alliance, which was established in 1993, concentrates on poor countries facing growing HIV epidemics.