24 February 2004
Together, We Can Turn the Global Tide against HIV/AIDS -- and We Must, Says Secretary-General in Message to Dublin Conference
NEW YORK, 23 February (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annans video message for the conference Breaking the Barriers: Partnership to Fight HIV/AIDS in Europe and Central Asia, in Dublin, 23-24 February:
Your meeting has a vital purpose: to meet the threat of HIV/AIDS in Europe and Central Asia, and to defeat it.
Some people may still think that AIDS is mainly an African problem. Or that it affects only certain people, outside the mainstream of life. That is a deadly mistake.
HIV/AIDS is the most globalized epidemic humanity has ever known. And in the past five years, it has grown faster in Eastern Europe and Central Asia than in any other part of the world.
In Eastern Europe, 80 per cent of new infections are among young people.
No nation can afford to see its future workers and leaders struck down by AIDS before they reach maturity.
Not only has the disease attacked new parts of the world. It is also constantly making inroads into new communities. In both East and West, therefore, we must constantly adapt our strategies to new conditions, and work with new partners.
Effective treatment is becoming more and more widely available. But that is no cause for complacency. Treatment must go hand in hand with more effective prevention.
And we must stamp out any tendency to blame or stigmatize others. That tendency has badly hindered the struggle against HIV/AIDS in the past.
By convening this conference, the Government of Ireland has made excellent use of its European Union presidency. I urge you all to make sure that the outcome is worthy of it.
Together, we can turn the global tide against HIV/AIDS - and we must.
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