AIDS Is Foreign Policy Issue, ‘Crisis’ Equivalent to Iraq, Powell Says at Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS Dinner
AIDS is "not just a health care issue" but also a foreign policy issue that is "every bit as much a crisis as Iraq," Secretary of State Colin Powell said last night at the 2003 Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS Awards Dinner, the Washington Post reports (Roberts, Washington Post, 6/12). The GBC, which was formed in 1998 to encourage companies to join in the fight against HIV/AIDS, has grown from 17 members in 2001 to 114 members (Reuters, 6/12). The members include Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, AOL Time Warner, DeBeers Group, BET, Nike, Viacom, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Abbott Laboratories. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), evangelical leader Rev. Franklin Graham, former U.N. ambassador and GBC president Richard Holbrooke, former Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), World Bank President James Wolfensohn, actress Glenn Close and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni attended the event (Washington Post, 6/12). Holbrooke noted the GBC's achievements -- including the growth of the coalition to encompass 4 million workers in 178 countries -- but said that more remained to be done, adding, "Most of the business community has still not done more than a fraction of what it should do. ... The harsh truth is that far too few companies are fully engaged yet in this fight" (Reuters, 6/12). The coalition honored Standard Chartered Bank, an international commercial bank that focuses on emerging markets, and Tata Steel, an Indian steel company, for their work in educating employees and communities on HIV/AIDS (Lester, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/12). Chris Keljik, group executive director of Standard Chartered, said that his company believes that "all companies have a duty to care for their people and the communities in which they do business" (Reuters, 6/12). The GBC leaders yesterday met with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and other top administration officials to urge them to fully fund a $15 billion global AIDS bill that President Bush signed into law last month. "It will definitely get funded," Frist said, adding that it is important for the administration to keep its promise of funding and to serve as an example to the private sector (Washington Post, 6/12).
A kaisernetwork.org HealthCast of the GBC dinner will be available online today after noon.