On the occasion of World AIDS Day, 1 December 1995, Padraig Flynn, European Commissioner responsible for social affairs presented European Union activities in the fight against AIDS/HIV. Commenting on the gravity of the situation, Commissioner Flynn noted that "Over 140,000 AIDS cases have been reported in the European Union and a further 500,000 people have contracted the HIV virus world-wide. Some 15 million people live with HIV or AIDS and each day more than 6,000 people contract the HIV virus. These grim statistics also show that AIDS affects all groups in society : children and adults, men and women, heterosexuals and homosexuals". Confronted with this major health problem, the European Commission and the Member States are implementing actions on three fronts: - Implementation of a new European Union action programme to combat AIDS and other communicable diseases for the period 1996-2000 (proposal presently before the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament); - Implementation of research programmes, under the current Fourth Framework Programme for research and technological development, receiving funding of ECU 27 million; - Assistance to developing countries in the context of the European Union's external relations policy. The proposed budget for the new Community action programme against AIDS is ECU 49.6 million. Commissioner Flynn expressed the hope that "in view of the importance and urgency of this matter" the programme will be adopted by the end of 1995. The new programme will focus on: - Surveillance and control for certain communicable diseases; - Prevention of transmission; - Education, training and information; - Social and psychological support for people living with HIV and AIDS; - Fighting discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS. The first "Europe against AIDS" programme (1991-1993), adopted in 1991, focused on preventive action through information and education. It was prolonged until the end of 1995. Since 1991, 309 Community action projects, involving at least two Member States, have received a total of ECU 30 million from the European Community. This investment has created exceptional momentum within the Community for the fight against AIDS, leading to the creation and development of numerous networks. Commissioner Flynn cited, as an example, the international mass media AIDS prevention campaign targeted at young travellers and implemented in all fifteen Member States. This campaign also generated momentum in some Eastern European countries as well as in Malta and Tunisia. In conclusion, Mr. Flynn recognized that "Despite the huge efforts made both within Europe and on a global scale, it is sadly true that HIV/AIDS is continuing to spread". On a more positive note, however, he added that "(...) prevention is possible and effective. There is nothing inevitable about the extent, or the rapidity of the further spread of HIV infection. It is possible, with more effort, to reduce future infections".