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Business community has key role to play in fight against AIDS, Fréchette says

Business community has key role to play in fight against AIDS, Fréchette says

Louise Fréchette
Only through a “truly global alliance” will AIDS be defeated, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said this morning in Denver, Colorado, as she urged representatives of the private sector to step up their efforts to combat the deadly disease.

“Business represents one of the most powerful forces in the world, but it has yet to be fully utilized in this fight – it is high time we tapped its strengths to the full,” said Ms. Frechette at a breakfast meeting on HIV/AIDS and business organized by the Better World Campaign. The campaign is a project of the Better World Fund, which aims to enhance awareness and appreciation for the work of the UN and the role it plays in international affairs.

The Deputy Secretary-General noted that business could have a key impact in the fight against the disease, which has already claimed more than 20 million lives, by making changes in the workplace, including drawing up effective AIDS policies and ensuring effective support and care for infected employees.

Business could have an even wider-ranging impact as “advocates for change”, she said, emphasizing the need to speak up about the epidemic and what could be done to stop it. “Silence and stigma drive the virus underground and fuel its spread – speaking up helps to halt it,” she stressed.

Noting that the total spending on AIDS prevention and care in low-and middle-income countries needs to rise to $10 billion a year – or five times the current amount being spent by citizens, national governments and international donors – she also underlined the role to be played by businesses as financial supporters. In that regard, she pointed out that the newly operational UN-backed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria was open to funds from both governments and private donors.