U.S. steps up global fight against AIDS
January 10, 2000
Web posted at: 1:55 p.m. EST (1855 GMT)
U.N. sees threat to peace in Africa
From staff and wire reports
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The Clinton administration will ask Congress to approve an extra $150 million to combat the global spread of AIDS and other diseases, especially in Africa, Vice President Al Gore said Monday.
He also called on the United Nations Security Council to
adopt a new, wider definition of world security to include
global environmental and health hazards.
Gore spoke at the start of the first U.N. Security Council
session devoted to a public health problem in the council's
Where the money would go
"Last year," Gore said, "I announced the largest ever
increase in the U.S. commitment to international AIDS
programs -- $100 million to fight AIDS in Africa, India,
eastern Europe and other areas. Today, I announce America's
decision to step up the battle."
"The budget the Clinton-Gore administration will send to our
Congress next month will include an additional increase of
another $100 million," he said.
Gore said some of the money in the U.S. proposal would go for
Reduce the stigma associated with AIDS
Strengthen "health infrastructures" to treat and prevent
the spread of AIDS
Reduce mother-to-child transmission
Support home- and community-based care to people with AIDS
Provide care for children orphaned by AIDS
U.S. military to be used in anti-AIDS efforts
Gore also said:
The administration is seeking another $50 million for
"research, purchase and distribution of life-saving vaccines
in developing nations."
A new partnership with the business community active in
Africa will help launch education campaigns in the workplace
to promote AIDS prevention.
The administration's budget request for next year would
"contain specific funding for the U.S. military to work with
the armed forces of other nations to combat AIDS."
AIDS seen as security threat
Gore urged other nations to consider the AIDS epidemic a true
threat to peace in Africa and make it a priority on the
world's security agenda.
"The heart of the security agenda is protecting lives, and we
now know that the number of people who will die of AIDS in
the first decade of the 21st century will rival the number
that died in all the wars in all the decades of the 20th
century," Gore said.
The AIDS epidemic killed 2.2 million people in Africa in 1998
"We tend to think of a threat to security in terms of war and
peace," Gore told the council in the first speech ever by a
U.S. vice president to the 15-member body. "Yet no one can
doubt that the havoc wreaked and the toll exacted by HIV/AIDS
do threaten our security."
"This meeting demands of us that we see security through a
new and wider prism, and forever after, think about it
according to a new, more expansive definition," he added.
Sub-Saharan Africa devastated
U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke said Sunday the goal of the
Security Council meeting is to highlight the toll AIDS has
taken on Africa, attempt to reduce the disease's stigma and
to "begin to redefine security as broader in the post-Cold
War era than it used to be."
AIDS has devastated the economic and social fabric of Africa,
taxing already poverty-stricken health systems, robbing
countries of their most productive members and leaving about
11 million AIDS orphans on the continent.
Eastern and southern Africa have been particularly hard hit.
Home to just 4.8 percent of the world's population,
sub-Saharan Africa, as the region also is called, has more
than 50 percent of the world's HIV-positive people.
It also accounts for 60 percent of the 16.3 million lives
lost to AIDS since the epidemic began, U.N. figures show.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the AIDS epidemic in Africa threatens economic, social and political stability|
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Political instability in Africa feared
In his own remarks to the council, U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan said that high AIDS death rates among Africa's
elite, including public servants, threaten the ability of
some countries to govern effectively.
High infection rates among police and armed forces also have
left African countries ill-equipped to face security threats,
"In already unstable societies, this cocktail of disasters is
a sure recipe for more conflict," Annan said. "And conflict
in turn provides fertile ground for further infections."
"The breakdown of health and education services, the
obstruction of humanitarian assistance, the displacement of
whole populations and a high infection rate among soldiers --
as in other groups which move back and forth across the
continent: all these ensure that the epidemic spreads ever
further and faster."
Opposition to U.N. plan
Last month, Annan invited dozens of representatives from
Africa, U.N. agencies, donor governments, voluntary
organizations and businesses to draw up a plan to reduce
infection rates in Africans aged 15-24 by 25 percent before
He called for more information and prevention campaigns, the
speedy development of a vaccine, affordable treatment for
Africans and a commitment by wealthier countries to put up
more money to fight the epidemic in Africa.
Annan invited the council to become a partner in that effort
by working to ensure that armed conflict doesn't spread AIDS
or prevent U.N. agencies and other groups from trying to
Not all council members approved of the meeting.
Western diplomats said Russia told Holbrooke it wouldn't make
a speech, arguing that other U.N. bodies such as the World
Health Organization and the U.N. Economic and Social Council
were more appropriate venues to debate the problem of AIDS in
China also voiced reservations about Holbrooke's agenda,
diplomats said. Both countries generally try to focus the
Security Council's attention on strict matters of
international peace and security to prevent issues such as
human rights from arising.
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Political purpose in Gore's appearance
The speech by Gore is one of several appearances the White
House has reserved for the vice president in hopes of
boosting his presidential campaign.
It could help Gore counter criticism from liberal and other
activist groups who say the Clinton administration has not
dedicated enough attention to Africa generally and AIDS in
"The (AIDS) activists are right that this was ignored for far
too long," Gore said Monday in an interview with CNN.
Gore addressed as "Mr. President .... "
The United States holds the presidency of the Security
Council this month. Holbrooke scheduled Monday's open session
and invited Gore to speak.
After Gore's remarks, Annan addressed him with a smile as
"Mr. President" -- and then, after being greeted by laughter
and applause, added "...of the Security Council." That
brought more laughter.
Gore, with his U.S. presidential hopes clearly in mind, then
interjected: "I am working on it."
White House Correspondent John King, Senior U.N. Correspondent Richard Roth and Medical Correspondent Steve Salvatore contributed to this report.
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