Press Releases

    1 April 2005

    Leadership Commitment Needed to Halt Rapidly Growing HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Says Secretary-General in Message to Moscow Meeting

    NEW YORK, 31 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the ministerial meeting on an “Urgent Response to the HIV/AIDS Epidemics in the Commonwealth of Independent States”, being held in Moscow, 31 March-1 April:

    You are gathering to discuss a rapidly growing emergency.  By the end of last year, an estimated 1.4 million people were living with HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.  Although more than 70 per cent of them are injecting drug users, the virus has started to move into the general population.  The epidemic is bringing with it enormous human suffering and serious threats to development and security.

    How the CIS region deals with this challenge will determine not only the size of the epidemic, but whether you will be able to prevent all the other destruction that AIDS causes.  We know from our experience elsewhere that the spread can be turned back.  But it cannot be done piecemeal.  It requires a coordinated response from all sectors of society.  And it requires leadership at every level.

    That is why your gathering is so important.  Meetings such as this one give governments an opportunity to demonstrate political commitment, and to follow up by developing commensurate policy and programmatic responses.  The United Nations family, particularly the UNAIDS co-sponsors, stands ready to assist you in any way we can.  There is no time to lose if we are to reach the Millennium Development Goal of halting, and beginning to reverse, the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015.  I look to every one of you as an ally in that struggle, and wish you a most productive meeting.

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