Sweden First Country To Appoint AIDS Ambassador
Sweden has appointed a career diplomat to serve as its special ambassador for HIV/AIDS, making the country the world's first to appoint such an envoy, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs announced on Wednesday, Reuters reports. Lennart Hjelmaker, who served for five years at the Swedish embassy in Kenya and five years at the embassy in Zimbabwe, said that although Africa is the continent hardest hit by HIV, the virus is spreading fastest in Eastern Europe and Asia. Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 60 million people worldwide have been infected with HIV and 20 million have died of AIDS-related complications. "If we cannot turn the trend, there's a risk that we will have another 45 million infected people around the year 2010," Hjelmaker said. Hjelmaker said that one of his goals as special ambassador would be to try to convince the Catholic Church that condoms are needed in the fight against HIV/AIDS. "You have to tackle this with your heart as well as your brain," he said. Sweden, where HIV/AIDS is "relatively rare," is one of the world's leading foreign aid donors, according to Reuters (Reuters, 11/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.