Press Releases

    26 October 2005

    Impact of HIV/AIDS on Children "One of the Cruellest Tragedies of Our Time", Secretary-General Says at Launch of New UN Campaign

    NEW YORK, 25 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks delivered today at Headquarters by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the launch of the campaign, "Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS":

    Thank you all for being here.  Today, we launch a campaign to address one of the cruellest tragedies of our time.

    It is a call for united action against an AIDS epidemic that is increasingly hurting children and young people.

    Millions of children and young people are already affected by the pandemic -- including those infected through the most heart-rending form of transmission -- mother to child.

    The number is multiplying every day.  Youth make up half of all new HIV infections worldwide, with a young person contracting the virus every 15 seconds.

    They often lack simple and fundamental information that is crucial to their safety.  As we know, in the world of AIDS, silence is death.

    That is why it is so important that this campaign is being launched today by UNICEF, UNAIDS and their partners.  It is literally a matter of saving lives.

    We must all unite to reach young people with the life-saving information they need -- the United Nations and its agencies, Governments, civil society and the private sector, the entertainment community and the sporting world.  Let me thank Mrs. Kagame, Sir Roger Moore and Bill Roedy for coming to show their support today.

    This commitment, once made, must be translated into concrete action.  We need to strengthen partnerships and mobilize more funding.  We need to deploy better skills and unleash all our energy and imagination.  We need to communicate with children and young people in a language that works for them.

    That is why I am delighted that today, we are joined by young people like Kerrel, whom you heard earlier, telling their stories about how AIDS has affected their lives.  Kerrel, thank you for having the courage to share your moving story with us.

    And you will hear how some countries have achieved impressive results in fighting AIDS, such as Thailand, Brazil and Cambodia.

    Those countries all have one thing in common.  They acted quickly and decisively to launch nationwide campaigns, showing that the Government was openly and seriously engaged in the struggle.

    We need to see results like that all over the world.  So let us listen to young people everywhere.  Let us speak up to support them. Let us  Unite for Children, and Unite against AIDS.

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