Press Releases

    SG/SM/7798
    AIDS/11
    14 May 2001

    SECRETARY-GENERAL THANKS US PRESIDENT BUSH FOR COMMITMENT TO GLOBAL FIGHT AGAINST HIV/AIDS

    NEW YORK, 11 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks, as delivered today, by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Washington, D.C.:

    I wish to thank you, President Bush, for committing yourself today to placing the United States at the forefront of the global fight against HIV/AIDS. It is a visionary decision that reflects your nation’s natural leadership role in the United Nations, as well as your recognition of the threat posed by this global catastrophe.

    To defeat this epidemic that haunts humanity, and to give hope to the millions infected with the virus, we need a response that matches the challenge.

    We should now build on the remarkable progress over the last year in galvanizing global awareness of the threat of HIV/AIDS.

    I believe we can all agree on five key objectives for our response: First, to ensure that people everywhere –- particularly young people -– know what to do to avoid infection; second, to stop perhaps the most tragic form of HIV transmission –- from mother to child; third, to provide treatment for all those infected; fourth, to redouble the search for a vaccine, as well as a cure; fifth, to care for all those whose lives have been devastated by AIDS, particularly the orphans –- and there are an estimated 13 million of them worldwide today -– and their numbers are growing.

    As we declare a global war on AIDS, we will need a war chest to fight it. We need to mobilize an additional $7 to 10 billion a year to fight this disease worldwide. The Global AIDS and Health Fund that I have called for as part of this total effort would be open to donations, as you heard from the two Presidents, from governments, civil society, the private sector, foundations and individuals -- all hands on deck. And the resources provided must be over and above what is being spent today on the disease, and on development assistance to poor countries. This founding contribution by the United States with the promise to do more will encourage and energize others to act.

    Africa, of course, is the continent that is most profoundly affected by the spread of HIV/AIDS, and the continent most in need of hope for a better future. The peoples and leaders of the continent are rising to the challenge, as President Obasanjo showed most recently by hosting the Abuja AIDS Summit. However, we must not forget that other parts of the world –- from the Caribbean to Asia to Eastern Europe -– are also confronting the spread of this virus, and need urgent assistance.

    It is my hope that your commitment today will set an example for other leaders. When we meet at the General Assembly’s special session on HIV/AIDS on the 25th of June in New York City, there will be strong support for the Global Aids and Health Fund.

    As that happens, I believe today will be remembered as the day we began to turn the tide.

    Thank you very much.

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