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Drugs alone will not stop AIDS in poor countries, Annan says

Drugs alone will not stop AIDS in poor countries, Annan says

Helping the developing world battle the AIDS crisis will require more than just drugs, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today, calling for an "additional infusion of money" to bolster the health infrastructure of countries in need.

Speaking to reporters as he arrived at United Nations Headquarters in New York this morning, Mr. Annan said it would be necessary to create "a real international global fund to help strengthen the health systems of these countries for our attempt to help them to be actually effective."

Mr. Annan acknowledged the value of drugs to treat AIDS, and stressed the need for the international community to "really work with the pharmaceutical industry, with governments, with NGOs, and companies that are giving care to their staff and the communities, as to how best we get [these drugs] delivered."

"But the availability of drugs alone is not sufficient," he warned. "We need to do much more."

The Secretary-General, who has made fighting AIDS one of his top priorities, is expected to deliver a major action-oriented address at next week's African Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases. The speech in Abuja, Nigeria, will focus on priority aspects of the epidemic, including prevention, care and treatment, and the essential factors needed for a large-scale response.

Yesterday, the Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Dr. Peter Piot, highlighted the need to respect the human rights of people infected with the virus.

"Abuses or violations of human rights in the context of HIV/AIDS are on the increase at the national level despite the existence of international human rights standards that aim to protect human rights," Dr. Piot told the International Coordinating Committee Meeting of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, being held in Geneva.

The UNAIDS Executive Director, who will also be attending the Abuja Summit, pointed out that human rights violations in the context of HIV/AIDS often go unnoticed "as they are neither investigated nor documented." He called for national human rights institutions to strengthen their capacity to investigate systematic violations of persons living with HIV/AIDS, "particularly in the area of stigma and discrimination that they suffer, which consequently erode the enjoyment of all other rights."