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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at World AIDS Day 1998, The White House
Washington, D.C., December 1, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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Mr. President, Brian Atwood, Amy Slemmer of Mothers’ Voices Against AIDS, Carol Bellamy of UNICEF, Nafis Sadik of the UN Population Fund, distinguished colleagues, guests and friends. I am pleased to participate in this program but saddened by its necessity.

For today we observe World AIDS day for the eleventh time. And we can expect many more.

I look around this room and I see many valiant members of the global network that is fighting the causes and consequences of HIV/AIDS. That network is strong and deeply motivated; it is growing; it is active almost everywhere; but it is not yet winning the war against this disease of awful and shattering power.

Thirty-three million people are now infected with HIV. And up to forty million children will be orphaned by AIDS by the end of the next decade.

It is a deep human tragedy that 90 percent of AIDS orphans live in sub-saharan Africa. But this highly mobile disease has migrated to every corner of the earth.

So directly or indirectly, HIV/AIDS threatens us all -- whether as individuals, as family, friends and neighbors, or as members of the global community.

For we cannot build dynamic economies where one in five or even one in twenty adults is being struck down. We cannot create vibrant democratic institutions where communities are preoccupied with suffering and sorrow. We cannot count on stability where the ranks of military and political leadership are decimated. And we cannot expect a strong sense of social responsibility in the young where too many children have no parents.

All this is why fighting HIV/AIDS, and helping its victims, is a foreign policy imperative.

Soon, I will be releasing a report entitled the 1999 U.S. International Response to HIV/AIDS. This is an interagency effort to document the full range of U.S. resources engaged in the struggle against AIDS. We will use it to launch a diplomatic initiative designed to mobilize and energize others around the world -- both from the top down and the bottom up -- so that international organizations, governments and grassroots reinforce each other and pull in the same direction.

If we are to make progress, governments must understand what you and your overseas counterparts already understand. And that is that HIV/AIDS cannot be denied or ignored or patronized or put off until tomorrow.

This is an urgent, deadly, global threat. It cannot be appeased; it must be confronted.

And as Secretary of State, I will do all I can to see that this imperative is raised as a matter of international security, at the highest levels, at every opportunity, in every region, on every continent.

On this day of special dedication, let us vow to work together across all lines of profession, culture and national borders so that we may bring closer the day when nations and people everywhere are aware of the dangers of this disease; all act to prevent its spread; all afflicted are helped and their human rights respected; and none rest until HIV/AIDS is conquered or controlled.

Thank you. And now I’d like to introduce the head of the agency whose employees have long been on the front lines of this fight, my good friend, the Administrator of the Agency for International Development, Brian Atwood.

[End of Document]

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