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The BBC's Karen Allen
"The challenge facing Kofi Annan is to convert this show of commitment into firm promises of cash"
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The BBC's Greg Barrow, in New York
"People are learning new things everyday"
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Jerker Edstrom of the Int. HIV/Aids Alliance
"We're already seeing more attention paid to treatment, care and support"
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Barry Coates, Director, World Development Movement
"There should not be an overblown global trust fund where the money doesn't get through"
 real 28k

Monday, 25 June, 2001, 18:35 GMT 19:35 UK
Annan demands Aids action
Potent symbol - a multicoloured, patchwork quilt honouring millions of lives lost
Over 20 million people have died of Aids so far
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for concerted global action to stop what he called the unprecedented crisis of HIV/Aids.

I was a soldier - I know of no enemy in war more insidious or vicious than Aids

US Secretary of State Colin Powell
Speaking at a special three-day session of the UN General Assembly, he said: "Aids can no longer do its deadly work in the dark. The world has started to wake up."

This is the first time the body has devoted a special session to discussing a health issue.

The meeting opened with a minute's silence to commemorate the 22 million people who have died of the disease.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell announced that the United States will provide more money to a global fund to fight the disease and will continue to lead the world in financing Aids research.

He said that the 36 million people afflicted with the HIV virus or Aids must be treated with "compassion, not ostracism".

Click here for graph showing extent of the HIV/Aids epidemic

But he stressed that the key to ending the epidemic is "prevention, prevention and more prevention.

Relentless action

"From this moment on, our response to Aids must be no less comprehensive, no less relentless, and no less swift than the pandemic itself," he said.

Aids drugs
Aids drugs are available free in Brazil
The retired four-star general and former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff went on: "No war on the face of the world is more destructive than the Aids pandemic.

"I was a soldier. I know of no enemy in war more insidious or vicious than Aids, an enemy that poses a clear and present danger to the world. The war against Aids has no front lines. We must wage it on every front."

Health experts and activists hope the meeting can prove a landmark in the fight to stop the disease's spread.

More money

Mr Annan also called for a change of attitude towards the disease.

"We cannot deal with Aids by making moral judgements or refusing to face unpleasant facts - and still less by stigmatising those who are infected and making out that it is all their fault," he said.

Mr Annan called for more money to be put towards a fund for fighting Aids and related illnesses.

He said between $7 billion and $10 billion was needed annually to deal with the disease.

So far three countries - the United States, Britain and France - have made contributions to the fund along with three private donations, reaching a total of just $528 million.

The three days of conferences and meetings will end on Wednesday and will touch on everything from drug prices and Aids orphans to homosexuality.

More than 20 heads of state are attending, mainly from Africa, where some countries have seen the disease infect one in five of the adult population.

The conference is aiming to set out a worldwide strategy for tackling the disease and halting its spread.


But the conference is also likely to highlight disagreements among governments dealing with the disease.

Jar of condoms in the US
Some groups oppose free condoms
Some oppose the promotion of condoms and safe sex, while others see HIV/Aids as an issue of poverty as much as health.

The conference will also give activists and governments the chance to highlight their special areas of concern.

Since its identification 20 years ago, Aids is estimated to be mankind's worst epidemic since the bubonic plague swept across 14th century Europe.

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See also:

25 Jun 01 | Business
US drops Brazil Aids drugs case
19 Apr 01 | Africa
SA victory in Aids drugs case
07 Nov 00 | Americas
Latin America 'faces Aids epidemic'
23 Jun 01 | Americas
Brazil uses porn to fight Aids
23 Nov 99 | Health
HIV hits 50 million
25 Jun 01 | Africa
How to spend Aids fund
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