30 November 2001


Press Release


This is the text of a statement by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette at a town hall-style meeting at Headquarters today in observance of World Aids Day (1 December):

This World AIDS Day is especially important:  it is an occasion for us to refocus attention on the global fight against the epidemic, and to resolve to sustain the momentum that has been achieved in that fight so far.  We have a wonderful group of people coming together here today, people who have notoriety in their own field and who have agreed to take the time to be with us today.

As we are all painfully aware, the world has changed since we observed World AIDS Day one year ago.  The events of the past few months have propelled us into a new and uncertain environment.  But that should not lessen our resolve to fight AIDS.  The latest figures, released only two days ago, tell us that the tragedy of AIDS continues to grow.  More than 40 million people are now living with HIV/AIDS –- an increase of 4 million from the year before.  Every hour of every day, almost 600 people are infected.  Every minute, a child dies of the virus. 

The motto of this year’s World AIDS Day takes the form of a question:  “I Care… Do You?” For those of us observing this day, the answer is an emphatic yes. But we must do more than say we care.  We must all join forces to do something about it.

After this eventful year, we have the tools, the knowledge and the roadmap to do it.

The Secretary-General has issued a call to action to the whole world, focusing on five clear objectives around which we can all rally.

First, to ensure that people everywhere -- particularly young people -- know what to do to avoid infection;

Second, to stop perhaps the most tragic form of HIV transmission -- from mother to child;

Third, to provide treatment for all those infected;

Fourth, to redouble the search for a vaccine, as well as a cure;

Fifth, to care for all those whose lives have been devastated by AIDS, particularly the orphans.

And thanks to the United Nations General Assembly’s Special Session on HIV/AIDS last June, we now have a number of globally agreed, time-bound goals and commitments.  All of us have a part to play in reaching them.

Resources will be needed to meet those goals, on a far greater scale than we have seen so far.  There has been a wide response to the Secretary-General’s proposal last April for a global fund to fight AIDS and other infectious diseases. Only seven months later, pledges to the Fund stand at more than 1.5 billion dollars, and work is progressing well to make it operational by the end of the year.

Our entire United Nations family is working together more closely than ever on the front lines of this fight, under a common strategic plan.  I am pleased to add that our joint programme, UNAIDS, has just been strengthened by the arrival of a new co-sponsor, the International Labour Organization (ILO), with its unique expertise in the world of work.  As we know, the workplace is a crucial starting-point for programmes in both prevention and care.

At no time, in the two decades of dealing with this catastrophe, has there been such a sense of common purpose and collective responsibility -– among governments, civil society and the private sector; among foundations, opinion-makers and people living with the disease.  Among people who care -– people like all of you here today.

And so, on this World AIDS Day, let us resolve to build a world fit for succeeding generations -- a world in which a child does not die of AIDS every minute.  Let us tell the whole world that yes, we care, and yes, we will do what it takes to win the fight against AIDS.

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For information media. Not an official record.