Secretary of State Colin Powell Discusses HIV/AIDS Prevention in Roundtable Discussion With Kenyan Youths
Secretary of State Colin Powell on Saturday in Kenya attended a roundtable discussion on HIV/AIDS education with youths ages 11 to 27 and called HIV/AIDS the "greatest weapon of mass destruction" in the world, Agence France-Presse reports. Powell visited the country -- -- where 140,000 adults die from the disease annually -- following a tour of areas devastated by the Asian tsunami (Agence France-Presse, 1/8). Powell's "frank discussion" with Kenyan youths touched on issues such as promiscuity, resistance to condom use and the "cultural expectations that young girls will have sex with much older men," the AP/Providence Journal reports (Gearan, AP/Providence Journal, 1/8). Powell also met with Kenyan residents who have received and provided education on HIV/AIDS prevention through several private groups that receive funding from the United States. "Africa, I think for too long ... ignored the problem, looked the other way and said, 'No, this isn't happening,'" Powell said, adding, "And there were cultural and tribal issues associated with this where, you know, promiscuity (was) accepted if not also encouraged and those sorts of patterns of behavior have to change in order to protect the African young people. ... The problem you are working on ... goes beyond just a health problem ... it's a destroyer of societies, it's a destroyer of economies" (Mohammed, Reuters, 1/8). Powell said, "More and more people are willing to speak out about this and not hide" (AP/Providence Journal, 1/8). Powell praised former South African President Nelson Mandela for his acknowledgement last week that his son had died of AIDS-related pneumonia. "That kind of personal example and willingness to share the problem publicly is important so that people will say, 'Well, you know, if Mandela can talk about it, then I should talk about it and if he has it in his family, then maybe I have it in my family,'" Powell said (Reuters, 1/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.