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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Statement about World AIDS Day -December 1, 2000
November 29, 2000, Washington, DC
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Each year at this time, we join together to pledge our support to the millions of men, women and children who have been touched by the world's most devastating disease. But while World AIDS Day is a time to offer encouragement, it is no time to rest.

For despite the heroic efforts of so many, we are not winning the war against AIDS; we are losing it. And if we cannot find a way to make our efforts more effective, this pandemic will weaken the world's economy, slow social progress and endanger the future of us all.

Today, more than thirty-six million people live with this virus. Each day, more than 10,000 people are newly infected. Annually, three million people die. Whole societies are being robbed of parents and workers in what should be the most productive years of their lives. This is a staggering litany of loss.

In Africa, experts predict that in years to come tens of millions of children will be orphaned; infant mortality will double; and in many countries, average life expectancy will decline by two decades or more. And we are seeing increased infection rates in Asia and many other parts of the world. Make no mistake, HIV/AIDS is a global threat, and the entire international community must fight it together.

The Clinton Administration has properly identified AIDS as more than a public health crisis and a grave humanitarian challenge. It is also a peril to world security. That is why the United States has made countering HIV/AIDS one of its highest foreign policy priorities. Over the past decade, we have invested more than $1 billion in prevention, education and treatment efforts overseas, and our commitment continues to increase. For Fiscal Year 2001, the President has requested, and Congress has appropriated, $460 million for the international fight against HIV/AIDS and other deadly infectious diseases.

Many other countries, as well as international institutions and non-governmental organizations, are contributing mightily as well. Billions of dollars more are needed.

But resources alone will not defeat HIV/AIDS. Every government on every continent must commit itself to halting the spread of this disease. And officials must join with the public health community, educators, and NGOs in a coordinated, comprehensive and long-term effort. Last January's historic UN Security Council Session on AIDS in Africa was a step in the right direction. The special UN Session scheduled for next June can be another.

In everything we do, we must foster frankness and overcome the tendency to denial. For preventing HIV/AIDS depends not only on unlocking the secrets of medical science, but also on changing the way that people think and act in response to this terrible disease. We must eliminate, once and for all, the stigma that clings to this virus. We must give those infected the best treatment and support we can. We must help women in every society to have their voices heard. And we must get across the message that everybody everywhere has a responsibility and a role in defeating this disease.

We do not know how long our efforts and resources will be required in the worldwide struggle against HIV/AIDS. But we do know that the tide will only be turned through a global effort, marked by gutsy local leadership; energized by caring people everywhere; and backed generously by America and other donors. We also know that our generation faces no greater challenge -- and could bestow upon the future no more precious a gift -- than to transform AIDS from a menace into a memory.

[End of Document]

For additional information please see the following fact sheets:

  • 11/30/00: U.S. Government and Global HIV/AIDS
  • 11/30/00: The U.S. Department of State and the Global Fight Against HIV/AIDS: A Chronology
  • 11/30/00: U.S. Leaders Speaking About Worldwide AIDS
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