Statement by Sandra Thurman
President, International AIDS Trust
at Press Conference
Releasing the International Crisis Group
"HIV/AIDS as a Security Issue"
Report June 19, 2001

I am delighted to be able to stand here today with partners from the security community, the congress, the UN, and the NGOs as we commit to joining forces in a real global war on AIDS.

The involvement of the International Crisis Group in this issue is a clear sign that AIDS has moved far beyond public health, and is now alarming and mobilizing those committed to promoting stability and containing conflict.

For more than 20 years we have talked about our efforts in the face of AIDS as a war, and we have used all kinds of war metaphors. Unfortunately, our deeds have not matched our words.

We have talked about battles and threats and assaults, but the simple truth remains as a global community we have done far too little and we have waited far too long. There is a clear and present danger in our midst and it is time to move from rhetoric to real action. Each day of delay costs us thousands of lives and makes an already difficult task that much harder.

As you have heard this morning, AIDS has killed 22 million men, women, and children, and not only threatens families, but economies, governments, and entire nations. And much more now hangs in the balance, as AIDS pushes new regions of the world toward the brink.

Fortunately, if we act aggressively and we act now, there is still time to turn the tide. The good news is we know what needs to be done. In Africa and around the world, prevention and treatment programs have been implemented and have achieved real results.

It is now time to bring these proven programs to a scale that begins to match the magnitude of the challenge. We know the way. What we need is the will and the wallet to get the job done. The question isn't can we or can't we but will we or won't we. And the answer must emphatically be we will and soon. Promises and good intentions are not enough. It is time for a full-scale assault with the strategy, the leadership, and the resources needed to win. It will take all sectors of all societies pulling together to make this happen.

The pages of history are graced by times of great challenge when the global community mobilized and made a world of difference. Together, we need to reach for one of those moments now, or pay dearly later.

Together, as the ICG has urged, we need to ratchet up the political leadership, raise the $10 billion that is needed, and act in a far more disciplined, concerted, and strategic manner.

And it can be done. Just consider, as laid out in this report, a few examples in just the last two years of when the global community came together in the face of a global threat. To address the Y2K virus which I might add yielded not one single casualty the global community invested $200 billion. And to contain the Serbs in Kosovo and then to keep the peace, the global community mobilized $46 billion.

Those actions were clear one world a common cause and a unified action against an identified enemy. Surely with tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions of lives at stake and serious threats to our global security the fight against AIDS deserves no less.

This is our chance. Next week as the world gathers in New York for the UN General Assembly's Special Session on AIDS let us seize the moment and begin to wage a real war on AIDS.

Thank you.

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