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Annan urges renewed vigour in fight against AIDS epidemic

Annan urges renewed vigour in fight against AIDS epidemic

With the international community gearing up to mark World AIDS Day on 1December, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appealed for maintaining the “tremendous momentum” that had been built in the fight against the epidemic prior to the 11 September terrorist attacks against the United States.

“To lose it now would be to compound one tragedy with another,” the Secretary-General wrote in an opinion piece in Thursday’s edition of The Washington Post.

The Secretary-General noted that seven months after he proposed the creation of a $7-$10 billion fund to support the fight against AIDS and other infectious diseases, pledges to the effort now stood at $1.5 billion. He stressed, however, that global commitment and political will were still desperately needed.

Among the most heartening features of the pledges, Mr. Annan said, was their range: they have come “from the world's wealthiest nations – starting with the founding contribution from the United States last May – but also from some of its poorest, as well as from foundations, corporations and private individuals.”

“Life after September 11 has made us all think more deeply about the kind of world we want for our children,” he wrote. “It is the same world we wanted on September 10 – a world in which a child does not die of AIDS every minute.”

In a related development, the Joint UN Programme on the epidemic (UNAIDS) announced today that Roger Milla, the soccer star from Cameroon, has been appointed as Ambassador for the Programme.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for me to fight for the causes in which I believe," said Mr. Milla at a press conference with UNAIDS. "Africa is bearing the brunt of the epidemic. As a Cameroonian, it is my duty to do what I can for Africa and its youth."

Mr. Milla will help to spread the prevention message to young people, especially young men, at sporting events.