For information only - not an official document.
     15 November 2000
 Secretary-General Says AIDS Must Not Be Dismissed as “Someone Else’s Issue”;
Stresses Need to Support Those Living with AIDS

NEW YORK, 14 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message for World AIDS Day, which is observed on 1 December:

The turn of the millennium has provided us with an occasion for profound reflection about the type of world we want to live in, and the kind of legacy we want to leave for future generations.  There is no more important issue for us to consider than AIDS.  Will we burden our children and our children’s children with a global HIV/AIDS pandemic?  Or can we take decisive action now to turn back the progress of this disease?

In some parts of the world, the past year has seen evidence of an explosive spread of HIV/AIDS.  In others, there are signs that the epidemic has stabilized -- but often only after an unacceptably high proportion of the population had become infected.  Many nations have demonstrated that it is possible to hold the spread in check.  But even in the richest countries, even among those that have achieved the greatest success against the epidemic, this requires a constant renewal of the struggle.

The actions of every one of us can make a difference.  This year, I would like to highlight the role of men, who can make a particular difference: by being more caring, by taking fewer risks and by facing the issue of AIDS head-on.  Until and unless we grasp that AIDS is our problem, we will be blind to the steps we need to take to protect ourselves and others against it.  We will be powerless to reduce its impact.  This applies as much to a leader planning the allocation of national resources as it does to a husband planning his future with his wife or a father planning for the future of his child. 

From the world stage to the most intimate moments, AIDS requires us to open our eyes and not dismiss it as "someone else's issue".  It requires us to open our minds to community solutions that work in the struggle against AIDS.  It requires us to open our arms to people living with HIV/AIDS and give them our solidarity and support. 

At the Millennium Summit three months ago, the world's leaders resolved that by 2015, we will have halted and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.  Next June, we will have an unprecedented opportunity to follow up on that resolve.  The General Assembly will convene a special session to review all aspects of the AIDS problem and to secure a coordinated global commitment in the struggle against it. It will provide us with an occasion as never before to face up to our responsibility to future generations, and take decisive action now to turn back the progress of this terrible disease.

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