Press Releases

     
    For information only - not an official document.
      UNIS/DSG/55
           4 December 2000
     In Fight against AIDS, Silence is Enemy, Says Deputy Secretary-General
    At World AIDS Day Event

     NEW YORK, 1 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of a statement by Deputy Secretary-General Louis Frechette at an event held in New York to mark World Aids Day (1 December):

    Mr. President of the General Assembly, dear friends, good morning.  I am delighted to welcome so many courageous and creative people to the United Nations today.  Let me first greet the young people here who are doing so much to fight HIV/AIDS.  It is people like you who remind us that we are not powerless against this epidemic.  You know that this fight is about taking responsibility not just for ourselves, but for the future of our communities. 

    And I am delighted to welcome a number of prominent men to this event, who will help us address the theme of this year's World Aids Day, "Men make a difference".  As representatives of various walks of life in which men's attitudes are formed, you will certainly make a difference to our discussion today about changing male attitudes and behaviours to halt the spread of AIDS. 

    The turn of the millennium has provided us with an occasion to think carefully about the future.  Will we burden our children and our children’s children with a global HIV/AIDS pandemic?  Or can we take decisive action now to turn back the progress of this disease?

    In some parts of the world, there has been an explosive spread of HIV/AIDS in the past year.  In others, there are signs that the epidemic has stabilized -- but only when far too many people are already infected.  Many nations have shown that it is possible to hold the spread in check -- but only through a constant renewal of the struggle.

    The actions of every one of us can make a difference.  That is why this year, we are highlighting the role of men and the particular difference they can make:  by showing more care and consideration for others; by taking fewer risks; by facing the issue of AIDS head-on and without shame -- because in the fight against AIDS, silence is as much an enemy as the virus itself.

    This applies to all of us.  We all need to open our eyes, and not dismiss AIDS as "someone else's issue". 

     At the Millennium Summit three months ago, the world's leaders resolved that by 2015, we will have halted and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.  As the President of the General Assembly just told us, we will have a chance to follow up on that resolve as the General Assembly convenes a Special Session on AIDS next June. 

    That session will give us the chance to build further on the partnerships we need -- partnerships among governments, donors, the United Nations family, civil society and the private sector.  Partnerships such as we see in this very gathering today.

    We must face up to our responsibility to future generations, and take decisive action now to turn back the progress of this terrible disease.  Again, thank you all for joining us today.  I know that by this World AIDS Day, we are giving ourselves a chance to recommit ourselves to not slow down our efforts.  Let us leave this room more dedicated to fight this horrible disease.  On behalf of the United Nations, I wish you a most stimulating discussion.  

    * * * * *