Annan urges greater global efforts to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS

Annan urges greater global efforts to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS

Mr. and Mrs. Annan interviewed by NBC's Matt Lauer
Citing the enormous number of people around the world infected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged greater global efforts to raise awareness about AIDS.

"When you look at the statistics in other parts of the world, it's absolutely staggering - 40 million infected, 14,000 a day becoming infected, 14-million orphans, and it goes on," the Secretary-General said in an interview on the NBC "Today" show broadcast this morning in the United States.

"The simple answer is we are not doing enough," he added. "You need awareness, you need people to be educated." He also called for scientific research on a vaccine as well as widespread access to condoms

Responding to a question about the challenges in reaching out to people, the Secretary-General said there was some progress, adding, "I don't go anywhere, any part of the world, where I don't raise this with the Head of State, and encourage them to come out and talk about it."

Mr. Annan appeared on the programme with his wife, Nane, who echoed the importance of increasing the understanding about HIV/AIDS. "It's a crisis we all have to deal with as a common humanity," she said, noting that she visits AIDS projects whenever she travels with the Secretary-General. "And the first thing is, you have to acknowledge it," she said. "Because if you don't, silence means death, and that is why it's important in every society."

As for her efforts to speak to women about the disease, Mrs. Annan noted that two-thirds of those infected around the world are female. "I [tell them], 'You have to put the emphasis on your education, to become strong and confident so you can stand up for yourselves,'" she said.

"I think we are making progress, although we are a couple of years away," Mr. Annan said about global action against AIDS. "We live in an inter-dependent world. There are no borders anymore. There's constant movement of people. And when it comes to health, diseases, the environment, terrorism, we're all in the same boat."