TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF FIRST CLINICAL EVIDENCE OF AIDS MAY BE
'YEAR WE TURNED THE TIDE', SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL
Following is the text of the statement by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the twentieth anniversary of the first clinical evidence of AIDS, 5 June:
In the two decades since the first cases of AIDS were reported, global progress in facing up to the pandemic has been unconscionably slow. But now, for much of the international community, the magnitude of the crisis is finally beginning to sink in. At no time in the past 20 years in dealing with this growing catastrophe has there been such a sense of collective resolve and collective possibility.
We must now build on this to galvanize global awareness and build a response that matches the challenge. That is why I have made the fight against HIV/AIDS my personal priority. That is why I have issued a call to action to the whole world, asking every sector of society to play its full part in the fight against AIDS. That is why I have called for the establishment of a Global AIDS and Health Fund, open to both governments and private donors. I am confident that the founding contribution by President Bush -- with the promise to do more as the Fund evolves -- will encourage and energize others to act.
In less than three weeks from now, delegates from governments all over the world will gather at United Nations Headquarters for a special session of the General Assembly on HIV/AIDS. That session will be a test for all of us who call ourselves the international community. I am sure that by then, there will be widespread support for the Fund and that it will be up and running soon thereafter. And I believe this year will go down in history as the year we turned the tide.
* *** *