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Annan urges stepped-up efforts to fight HIV/AIDS epidemic

Annan urges stepped-up efforts to fight HIV/AIDS epidemic

Calling HIV/AIDS one of the "biggest barriers to development," Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged stepped up efforts to combat the epidemic.

Delivering the keynote address to the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize Luncheon in New York, the Secretary-General painted a grim picture of the reach of HIV/AIDS, which has infected more than 40 million people today. "Every day, more than 8,000 people die of it. Every hour, almost 600 people become infected. Every minute, a child dies of the virus," he said.

Despite these bleak trends, the Secretary-General said the world had reached a new level of commitment to fight the epidemic. "Never before, in the two decades that we have faced this growing catastrophe, has there been such a sense of common resolve and collective responsibility," he said. "People are grasping the seriousness of the crisis, but they are also realizing that we are not powerless against this disease."

In order to meet the challenge of building on the current momentum, he said greater resources would be needed. The Global AIDS and Health Fund had received pledges of over $1.5 billion, but that amount was insufficient to the task. “We need $7 to $10 billion a year to tackle this disease.”

"It is clear that we now have the roadmap, the tools and the knowledge to fight AIDS," said Mr. Annan. "And if we all work together and pool our efforts, I think we can win this war on all fronts.

This year's Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize was awarded to Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder and President of St. Christopher's Hospice. The luncheon was held at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan.