U2 frontman calls on everyone to lobby political leaders to force through help packages...

Bono has issued a public appeal calling on the British people to lobby Prime Minister Tony Blair in a fight against the AIDS pandemic in Africa.

In an impassioned article in today’s (February 24) Sun newspaper, the U2 frontman and would-be Nobel laureate has detailed the AIDS threat and revealed that he, Bob Geldof and others have set up DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade Africa) to campaign for Africa.

“When 2,500,000 people in Africa will die of Aids this year, we are not talking about a “cause” — we are talking about an emergency, a global humanitarian emergency. The facts about Aids blow your mind. They also break your heart,” he said. “There will be 25 million kids without mums and dads by the end of this decade because of the disease. It has taken 28 million lives so far – more than the populations of Australia and New Zealand. 3.5million people now have HIV/AIDS – one for every man, woman and child living in Ireland.”

He went on: “Africa needs further debt cancellation and more money to help fight back against Aids. And we must let Africans benefit from fair trade with us so, in the long term, they can earn their own cash to fight Aids and put their kids in school.

“Despite the horrific statistics there is hope. We are at a historic moment when the tragedy can be turned around. Countries in Africa like Senegal and Uganda have managed to stop the spread of HIV through education. And people living with AIDS no longer need to have a death sentence on their heads.

“One of the key weapons in this war is drugs. There are drugs which could keep African sufferers alive, and well enough to work, caring for themselves and their families.Drugs developed in this country are a great advertisement for what Britain does best — being smart with a heart.

“If you put together the brave resilience of the African people with miraculous life-saving medicines you have a winning combination. But they are too expensive for Africans to afford. But that’s no excuse. If it were Europeans or Americans dying in droves, we’d all join forces to save their lives.

“Charity donations alone will not beat this deadly pandemic, even though they can make a huge difference. The biblical scale of HIV/Aids means governments have to sign the cheques and change the rules. It’s up to us to persuade them to do it.”

He concluded saying: “It’s time for the UK and the rest of Europe to step up and help out. History will judge all of us on our response to this modern-day plague. It is a moral test of our times — an unprecedented human tragedy that we can and must bring to an end.”