Los Angeles, California, USA

03 December 2003

The Secretary-General's remarks to the press following his visit to an AIDS clinic in Los Angeles

SG: Let me say that my wife and I have really spent a very meaningful time here to see the work of Dr. Andrea Kovacs and her team are doing here. We had the chance to meet some of the patients. We met parents. It is remarkable what a comprehensive and rational approach is taken here. My wife and I have the opportunity of traveling around the world, and as you know AIDS is personal priority of mine, so I've visited many clinics around the world. Only a few weeks ago we were in Latin America, we talked with other people living with HIV/AIDS. We talked to mothers and children and, of course, what I've seen here is extremely impressive. I think this is something that can be replicated around the world. I want to thank Dr. Andrea Kovacs and her team for the work they do and for her leadership and she's going to be hearing from us. I've indicated that we are going to want to stay in touch with her and her team. I would want them to really share their experience with other clinics around the world. So Doctor thank you.

[Dr. Kovacs described the clinic]

It is my wife and I who should thank you for the contribution you are making. And for the courage of the young people who have come out and admitted they are living with HIV/AIDS and trying to use peer pressure to influence others. These are the heroes given the stigma, the discrimination, the difficulty it is to come out. I am full of admiration for them, for their families who support them and for the work this clinic does. I was also impressed at the way different institutions are pooling resources and effort to make this wonderful clinic possible.

Question: Since women are so impacted by AIDS and key to the solution, will there be a 2005 Women's World conference to follow up the Beijing platform for action?

SG: There isn't a decision on that yet. I know that that conference had such an impact of women and women's right. We will find someway of marking 2005, but I can not say whether it will be a global conference or some other form of taking stock of what has happened since the Beijing conference. But I think you are also right that women are impacted some much by HIV/AIDS that we need to find a way of giving them the means and the power to protect themselves, to empower them to protect themselves and some of the research going like [?] will eventually give them some support. In the meantime, we have to give them education, we have to work on prevention and we have to give them the means to protect themselves. Men are not always responsible and they do not always admit to their wives or girlfriends of their conditions [?] What is also happening is that today about fifty percent of those infected are women. In Africa today AIDS has a women's face and it's unfair.

Q: How do you compare the US to the rest of the world in terms of AIDS treatment and prevention?

SG: Obviously it defers from country to country. To some extent, if you take this clinic, you are not likely to see it replicated in another country or in any country. In some ways you have the resources and the scientific knowledge, so you [the US] are ahead of the others. In fact someone in this country, someone who is living with AIDS, given attention, treatment and care can live and function normally. It's a chronic disease. But in other parts of the world where treatment is not available, where medication is not available, it's a death sentence and that's the most difficult part. When we travel to some of these places and you see a young women or a man in the bed dying, who are also aware that there is medication available somewhere but they cant get it because they are poor. Should the poor have to go through that? Should they be punished to such an extent? Obviously a lot is being done now but we are not doing enough and we have to redouble our efforts. We need resources, we need research, we need to get a vaccine, we need to push for a simpler treatment like the one in three pill. There are lots of things that can be done. We also need resources to treat. We need about ten billion dollars by 2005 for global treatment and we are no where near it.