5 June 2006

Secretary-General Stresses Need for United Front, Leadership at All Levels, in Remarks at AIDS Concert

NEW YORK, 2 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following are UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remarks at the concert on 1 June marking 25 years of AIDS, held in connection with the General Assembly High-Level Meeting:

I'm so happy to see all of you here tonight -- Government representatives and celebrities, activists and advocates, colleagues and friends.

After 25 years of living with AIDS, we have learnt that we can defeat this disease only if we forge a united front.  That is why your presence here is so important.

The High-Level Meeting taking place at the United Nations this week is an important opportunity for Presidents and politicians from all over the world to show the personal leadership we need to win this fight.

But leadership comes not only from those who hold positions of power.  Leadership also comes from all of you.

It comes from individuals who help bring HIV/AIDS out of the shadows.  It comes from those who understand that silence is death.

It comes from doctors, nurses and counsellors who listen and care without judgement.

It comes from fathers, husbands, sons and brothers who support and affirm the rights of women.  It comes from teachers who nurture the dreams and aspirations of girls.

It comes from men who help ensure that other men assume their responsibility -- and understand that real manhood means protecting others from risk.

Leadership means finding ways to reach out to all groups -- whether young people, sex workers, injecting drug users, or men who have sex with men.

Leadership means daring to do things differently, because you understand that AIDS is a different kind of disease.

After 25 years, it stands alone in human experience, and it requires us to stand united against it.

I am grateful to all of you for standing united tonight.  I hope many more will follow your example.

I hope many more will follow your example and join the fight.

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