Secretary of State Colin Powell Urges Asian Nations To See HIV/AIDS as Security Threat
Secretary of State Colin Powell today at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations asked the member nations to view HIV/AIDS as a security threat, Agence France-Presse reports. According to a senior State Department official, Powell told the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) that if such a distinction was not made, AIDS could destroy nations and destabilize the region. "There is another threat to the region and the world that already has been more destructive than any weapon of mass destruction, more destructive than any army's activities and any conflict but which is not generally perceived to be a security threat: HIV/AIDS," the official quoted Powell as saying. "Collectively and individually, ASEAN and ARF members can save countless lives and stem the tide of the disease by speaking out to raise awareness and by promoting effective programs of prevention and care throughout the region," Powell was quoted as saying. According to the official, Powell announced that the United States would send representatives to the region later this month to discuss ways that the U.S. government can assist in the fight against infectious diseases. Powell said, "HIV/AIDS is not just a health and humanitarian issue. ... If left to rage, it tears the fabrics of societies, undermines governments and devastates economies," according to the official. The United Nations estimates that between two and 3.5 million people are HIV-positive in East Asia and the Pacific. According to the official, Powell said, "Unless we act, millions will die. No country is immune, all countries are vulnerable" (Agence France-Presse, 6/18).
NPR's "Morning Edition" today reports on Powell's comments. NPR's Vicky O'Hara told "Morning Edition" host Bob Edwards that Powell called for "more action" to fight HIV/AIDS, which is "rampant" in Asia (O'Hara, "Morning Edition," NPR, 6/18). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.