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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal   Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Statement Before the American Foundation for AIDS Research Symposium in Observance of UN World AIDS Day
United Nations, New York, New York, November 30, 1999
U.S. Department of State
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[Pre-taped in Washington, D.C.]
Video streaming of remarks

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good morning. I am pleased to open this symposium but saddened by its necessity. For tomorrow we will observe World AIDS Day for the twelfth time. And we can expect many more.

I want to thank AmFAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research), UNAIDS, and the many other valiant groups and individuals participating today. You are part of a deeply committed global network fighting the causes and consequences of HIV/AIDS. But while this network is growing in size and strength and effectiveness, it is not yet winning the war against this disease of awful and shattering power.

More people will die of AIDS this year than ever before. By this time tomorrow, some sixteen thousand more will be infected by HIV. And considering the regions in which this disease has yet to explode, we cannot deny the possibility that the worst is yet to come.

Already, child mortality in Africa has doubled. Life expectancy in some countries is down to levels we associate with the Middle Ages. And by the coming decade’s end, more than forty million children will have been orphaned by AIDS.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a profound human tragedy. It is also a looming foreign policy crisis.

Because so many adults are stricken in their primes, entire economies are being harmed. Because so many children are losing their parents, the social fabric is being torn. Because the ranks of political and military leadership in too many countries are being decimated, the prospects for democracy and stability are being squandered.

That is why we launched a diplomatic initiative to urge foreign leaders to put real money and muscle into the fight against HIV/AIDS.

It is why I have instructed our diplomats to raise this subject at every opportunity in every meeting on every continent.

It is why we are working both from the top down and bottom up -- so that international organizations, governments, the private sector and grassroots all pull in one direction.

It is why the United States leads all bilateral donors in the amount of development assistance we provide to address HIV/AIDS -- and why President Clinton requested an additional $100 million this year to expand our commitment.

And it is why this year’s theme for World AIDS Day -- "End the Silence: Listen, Learn, Live" -- makes so much sense. For at this time, much as we hope for more, the only proven remedy for AIDS worldwide is prevention.

In Uganda, one of the first nations to be devastated by AIDS has fought back with a campaign of public education so relentless that Ugandans call it "the big noise."

In Senegal, similar efforts kept the crisis from ever spinning out of control.

And in Thailand, we’ve seen that only one approach works across all cultures and continents: bringing this disease out of the shadows and into the light.

We have learned that denial does not prevent HIV/AIDS, or cure it, or care for those afflicted. We know that it must never again be a hidden killer. And we know that we cannot prevail in this struggle without the genius and generosity of the business community.

As Secretary of State, I will do everything in my power to bring closer the day when the people of every nation are aware of the dangers of this disease; all leaders speak out and act to prevent its spread; all afflicted are helped and their human rights respected; and none rest until HIV/AIDS is controlled, and ultimately conquered.

Thank you. And Godspeed in your work at this conference.

[End of Document]

For further information, see:
Fact Sheet: U.S. International HIV/AIDS Activities
UN World AIDS
Emerging Infectious Diseases and HIV/AIDS

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