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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal   Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks by at HIV/AIDS event, Kibera District Office
Nairobi, Kenya, October 22, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
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[As Delivered]

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Habari Kenya!

Thank you, Minister Ongeri -- and thank you, ARNET Waves, Flames Theatre and Talking Drums of Africa. This has been a wonderful performance. I will go home and tell my grandchildren about it. And, in fact, when they get older, I think I will have to have them see it.

Let me ask this wonderful audience and the children especially over here. I can well understand why when my youngest daughter, Katie, when she came here ten years ago to teach school, fell in love with the children of Kenya. And she will be very pleased when I tell her about this wonderful performance.

Nothing is more important for our young people, in Kenya or in my own country, than facing squarely the reality of this disease. It has killed more people than all the wars of this century combined. Let me repeat that. It has killed more people than all the wars of this century combined. It has already orphaned half a million Kenyan children. Young adults, which the members of this audience will be very soon, are the most vulnerable. Seven out of ten HIV-positive Kenyans are between 18 and 25 years old.

AIDS is stealing Kenya's future. By 2005, it is expected to overwhelm health services and cut Kenyan income by 14 percent. It has already reduced life expectancy by 15 years and turned back the clock on decades of development.

We must mobilize and respond to this threat by recognizing it for what it is -- not only a risk to public health but a disaster for economic progress, social justice and basic security in Kenya and throughout Africa.

The way to beat AIDS is to prevent it. Ignoring it does not work. Denying it does not work. And stigmatizing its victims does not work, which I think is the clearest message that you all gave here today.

Where we fight AIDS with openness, information and resources, we have seen a fall in the infection rates. From San Francisco to Senegal, we know it can be done. It can be done in Kenya and the United States is ready to help.

Kenya has begun to put a comprehensive HIV/AIDS policy in place. But there is much more to do. And there is no time to lose.

The United States is already one of the largest supporters of HIV/AIDS prevention in Kenya, through our funding for education and family planning programs. We work with community groups, religious organizations and the private sector. And I am proud to say that, through USAID, we support the work of ARTNET Waves.

And we are working with Congress to put in place a $100 million program to fight AIDS in 14 African countries and India.

What I have seen here today makes me hopeful about Kenya's chances in that fight. For you have the most important resource in abundance -- and that is people. Smart, dedicated, creative people, of all ages and from all walks of life, coming together to fight.

Asante sana kuni karibisha. Thank you for welcoming me. Thank you for inspiring me. And thank you for your dedication to Kenya's future -- and the future we all share.

[End of Document]
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