Political Will to Fight HIV/AIDS Epidemic Must be Sustained, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan Says
"Just as life -- and death -- goes on after Sept. 11, so must we continue our fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan writes today in a Washington Post op-ed, adding that to lose the "tremendous momentum" gained in the fight against AIDS before the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon would be to "compound one tragedy with another." UNAIDS statistics released in advance of Saturday's World AIDS Day show that more than 40 million people worldwide are currently living with HIV/AIDS, a majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa. However, "not far behind" are the Caribbean, Asia and Eastern Europe, where the epidemic is "spreading at an alarming rate," he notes. In June, the United Nations' General Assembly in a special session on HIV/AIDS in New York City "adopted a powerful declaration of commitments" to fighting the AIDS epidemic. Annan writes that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which aims to collect $7 billion to $10 billion but currently totals just more than $1.5 billion, "cannot be the only channel of resources for a full-scale global response to AIDS." He adds, however, that it is "most heartening" to see the range of pledges to the fund: "from the world's wealthiest nations ... but also from some of its poorest, as well as from foundations, corporations and private individuals." Annan concludes, "It is clear that we have the road map, the tools and the knowledge to fight AIDS. What we must sustain now is the political will. Life after Sept. 11 has made us all think more deeply about the kind of world we want for our children. It is the same world we wanted on Sept. 10 -- a world in which a child does not die of AIDS every minute" (Annan, Washington Post, 11/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.