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AFRO-NETS> Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report - Thu, 10 May 2001



Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report - Thu, 10 May 2001
-----------------------------------------------

* Annan Meets With U.S. Officials to Discuss AIDS Trust Fund 
* International Olympic Committee to Make $100,000 Donation to Global
  AIDS Fund 
* Actress Elizabeth Taylor Discusses AIDS Activism in AOL Chat 
* AIDS Epidemic May Induce War in Developing World, Experts Say 
* VSO Recruits HIV/AIDS Health Care Professionals to Volunteer in Af-
  rica


--
Annan Meets With U.S. Officials to Discuss AIDS Trust Fund

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday met with various U.S. of-
ficials in Washington, D.C., to discuss increasing the United States' 
contribution to a proposed $7 billion to $10 billion global fund to 
fight HIV/AIDS, the New York Times reports. Annan met with Secretary 
of State Colin Powell and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, "[a]gainst a 
background of rising anger in Congress" over recent votes that left 
the United States off of the U.N.'s Human Rights Commission and In-
ternational Narcotics Control Board. Despite speculation that the re-
cent votes would affect the talks, no topics other than HIV/AIDS were 
discussed during the meetings, according to deputy U.N. spokesperson 
Manoel de Almeida e Silva. After the meeting, Powell told reporters 
that the discussion had been "excellent." Annan was invited to return 
to Washington on Friday, when President Bush is expected to announce 
a $200 million pledge to the proposed fund. The United States may 
provide additional funding if the United Nations can meet "certain 
criteria for establishing the fund" and if other industrialized na-
tions contribute, an administration official said (Crosette/Sanger, 
New York Times, 5/10). The initial $200 million pledge is well below 
the amount proposed by Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) in an amendment to 
the Senate Budget bill. That amendment calls for an increase of $200 
million in FY 2002 and $500 million in FY 2003 above the $460 million 
the United States already spends on global AIDS efforts, bringing the 
U.S. total contribution to $1.1 billion over two years (Kaiser Daily 
HIV/AIDS Report, 4/6). Annan also met yesterday with Frist, who is 
chair of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Africa. Al-
though the United States annually contributes less than half of what 
Frist proposed, it remains the world's largest contributor to global 
AIDS efforts. In March, Frist commissioned a General Accounting Of-
fice study of USAID's African HIV/AIDS assistance that showed that 
the agency was having "problems" with distributing aid, particularly 
to African military personnel, 10% to 60% of whom are estimated to be 
HIV-positive. Congressional restrictions limit aid to foreign mili-
taries, acting as a "disincentive" to "pursuing prevention campaigns 
where they might be most needed," the Times reports (New York Times, 
5/10).

Showdown Over 'Unexpected Votes'

Observers say it is "hard to judge what effect" the United States' 
exclusion from the U.N. committees, which have always had U.S. repre-
sentation, will have on funding for Annan's proposed HIV/AIDS trust. 
Before leaving New York for Washington yesterday morning, Annan told 
a group of senior U.N. officials that he was "concerned" about con-
gressional calls for retribution against the U.N. and "recognized" 
the United States' "significant contributions" to the Human Rights 
Commission since its founding in 1947. Officials at the United Na-
tions added that Annan "regrets the unexpected votes" and hopes the 
United States will be voted back onto the Human Rights Commission 
next spring (Omaha World-Herald, 5/9). Powell said Tuesday that Annan 
was "as distressed as we are" about the votes (New York Times, 5/10).


--
International Olympic Committee to Make $100,000 Donation to Global 
AIDS Fund

International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch on 
Tuesday announced at U.N. Headquarters that the committee will donate 
$100,000 to the United Nations for the global fund to fight AIDS, ma-
laria and tuberculosis in developing countries. The announcement 
comes on the heels of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's pledge to 
donate his $100,000 cash award for the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, 
which he will receive on July 4, in what will be the first contribu-
tion to his proposed global fund (U.N. release, 5/8). Samaranch made 
the announcement during a ceremony in New York where he presented a 
statue that will be displayed at the United Nations "whenever an 
Olympic truce is in effect or is being discussed in the general as-
sembly" (Agence France-Presse, 5/8). The Olympic truce is an ancient 
Greek tradition "that calls for a cessation of conflict during the 
period of the Olympics." Speaking to the Olympic Truce Foundation's 
Board of Directors on Tuesday, Annan said that the truce could offer 
a "neutral point of consensus, a window of time to open dialogue and 
a pause to provide relief to the suffering of the population" (U.N. 
release, 5/8). Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, vice presi-
dent of the Olympic Truce Foundation, noted that UNICEF has used the 
temporary halts in hostilities manifested by the truce to inoculate 
"thousands of children against disease" (Agence France-Presse, 5/8). 
In his speech at Tuesday's meeting, Annan said, "The United Nations 
family has a long record of engaging the world of sports to advocate 
a wide range of causes. World-class athletes have lent their names 
and time to campaigns fighting AIDS and other diseases -- I am really 
grateful to President Samaranch for his support in the fight against 
AIDS -- drug abuse and poverty. Sport has been used to support educa-
tion and expand opportunities for youth; to encourage community de-
velopment in societies burdened by inequalities, poverty and the af-
termath of conflict; and to ease the trauma and discomfort of refu-
gees and internally displaced people" ( Annan speech text, 5/8).


--
Actress Elizabeth Taylor Discusses AIDS Activism in AOL Chat

Actress Elizabeth Taylor chatted with America Online members yester-
day about a variety of topics on AOL Live, including her work with 
AIDS organizations such as the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, the 
American Foundation for AIDS Research and the amfAR fundraiser Cinema 
Against AIDS 2001, to take place at the Cannes Film Festival. When 
the topic of AIDS was introduced into the discussion, Taylor said, 
"If you could see a map like we have at amfAR of the areas in Africa, 
India, Asia that are black, that means that the areas are dark be-
cause the people have been killed off by AIDS and there is no life 
there. And it is spreading so rapidly that those two continents are 
in danger. There are areas in our own continent that are in danger 
and which is frightening. When you see it on the map, the black, 
creeping out like an octopus. I think it is the worst disease now 
since the Black Death, the Flu after World War I." Taylor said that 
"AIDS has become the passion of my life, and I would do anything in 
the world if I could just wave a wand and find a cure. People have 
been lulled into a false sense of relaxation because of the cocktail, 
but this is not a cure. It does help to put people into remission, 
but it is so costly that not everyone can afford it. And those that 
can't afford, do read about it and still can't afford to have some-
thing that can extend their life. I get upset with the manufacturers 
of the cocktail that charge so much when there are people who can't 
afford it. I think that is so cruel." Taylor said that there is "so 
much more" she wishes she could do for AIDS, but that her osteoporo-
sis makes walking and traveling difficult for her. However, Taylor 
said she is planning a trip to Africa to discuss AIDS. "Nelson Man-
dela, my hero, has invited me so many times to go. But is it diffi-
cult, it is difficult for a white woman to get up and talk about AIDS 
because the black man is very personal and private about sex and they 
would not like some 'white momma' getting up talking to them about 
their sex life. So we have to try and find ways that I can get the 
message across to stop it or halt AIDS from moving across Africa 
without talking about sex which is very difficult," Taylor said (AOL 
transcript, 5/9).


--
AIDS Epidemic May Induce War in Developing World, Experts Say

AIDS is "poised to lead poorer countries into a spiral of economic 
ruin that could result in rebellions and violent conflict," according 
to a group of "leading researchers and intelligence experts" who con-
vened at an Institute for Peace forum on Tuesday, Reuters Health re-
ports. The growing epidemic is likely to "undermine economies and 
governmental revenues" and "drastically increase class polarization" 
as poor people without AIDS drug access die from the disease. The ex-
perts said that the "potential cascade of ethnic tension and weaken-
ing governments," combined with "a proliferation of light weapons 
left over from recent wars in many countries," will lead to a "dan-
gerous mix that could plunge vulnerable nations into internal war." 
National Intelligence Council officer David Gordon, who helped put 
global infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS on the U.S. national secu-
rity agenda, noted that the disease may reduce the gross domestic 
products of sub-Saharan African nations by 20% by 2020, and will "ex-
acerbate all of the conditions that have made Africa extraordinarily 
vulnerable to violent conflict." He also pointed out that AIDS will 
have a "huge impact" on state institutions as physicians, lawyers and 
civil servants become infected or leave the country to escape the 
disease. And while experts predict that AIDS could incite instability 
in the region, soldiers returning from combat to rural villages in 
Rwanda and the Republic of Congo may also increase the spread of dis-
ease as they forgo the use of condoms in an effort to have children 
to replenish the population, the WHO and American Red Cross note. 
South Africa and Zimbabwe are two examples of nations hardest hit by 
AIDS and experiencing "rising internal tensions" as a result, and In-
dia is predicted to face a "truly critical situation" as well, Thomas 
Homer-Dixon, director of the Peace and Conflicts Study Program at the 
University of Toronto, said. He added, "Disease is not going to lead 
directly to violence, it is going to have indirect effects. Disease 
will have a tremendous capacity to weaken the state" (Zwillich, 
Reuters Health, 5/9).


--
VSO Recruits HIV/AIDS Health Care Professionals to Volunteer in Af-
rica

International development charity VSO yesterday launched a recruit-
ment campaign in London to solicit health professionals to join "the 
fight against HIV" in Africa, BBC News reports. The campaign aims to 
"alert" HIV/AIDS professionals, health educators and community nurses 
of the "urgent need for their skills." Currently, 85% of HIV-related 
health placements are unfilled, with the demand for volunteers tri-
pling in the first four months of 2001. VSO said that the need for 
volunteers is "desperate, particularly in rural areas where there is 
little or no access to health education and where the virus remains a 
taboo subject." BBC reports that health care volunteers can "help 
break these taboos" by "influencing community leaders and traditional 
practitioners." Cathy Brown, head of health recruitment for VSO, 
said, "As each day passes the crisis gets worse," adding, "AIDS un-
dermines every other area of development VSO is involved in -- it is 
quite simply the most urgent crisis we have ever had to face. If you 
are a health professional, there will never be a more crucial time 
for you to use your skills." The charity is exploring ways to make 
volunteer positions "more attractive," such as offering postings for 
entire families. The current lack of health volunteers "goes against 
the general trend at VSO," which has supplied "record numbers" of 
workers over the last two years (BBC News, 5/8)

--
The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, 
a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, by National 
Journal Group Inc. c 2001 by National Journal Group Inc. and Kaiser 
Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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