20 November 2001


NEW YORK, 19 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on World AIDS Day, observed 1 December:

The world after 11 September has made us all think more deeply about the kind of world we want for our children. In the new and uncertain environment into which we have been propelled, we feel more deeply than ever the need to hold fast to a vision of peace and security, but also to one of human security. The United Nations’ mission to improve the lives of peoples everywhere has become even more urgent. That means redoubling our efforts to turn back HIV/AIDS.

Insecurity permeates the lives and families of individuals affected by HIV/AIDS. But AIDS also shatters the security of whole societies, communities and economies. Indeed, it is one of the biggest obstacles to development itself. It affects regional and global stability and risks slowing democratic development. In this way, AIDS not only takes away the present. It takes away the future. That is the toll of AIDS.

That toll is rising. This year’s figures on the state of the epidemic show that the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS continues to grow. Every hour of every day, almost 600 people are infected. And every hour, more than 60 children die of the virus.

The motto of this year’s World AIDS Day takes the form of a question: "I Care ... Do You?" For all of us who care about the world we want our children to live in, the answer is clearly yes. But we must do more than say it. We must all join forces to do something about it.

After years of slow and inadequate responses, this past year has seen a turning point in the fight against HIV/AIDS. At no time, in the two decades of dealing with this catastrophe, has there been such a sense of common resolve and collective possibility –- among governments, civil society and the private sector; among foundations, opinion-makers and people living with the disease. The impressive number of pledges to the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, proposed only last spring, is among many signs of a new level of commitment. Thanks to the United Nations General Assembly’s special session on HIV/AIDS last June, we now have globally agreed goals. All of us have a part to play in reaching those goals. On this World AIDS Day, let us all pledge to translate our concern into action; let us resolve that we care enough to build a world free of AIDS for future generations.

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