United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the three-day U.N. General Assembly session on HIV/AIDS has made him more confident that the disease can be defeated.
Meeting with reporters, Mr. Annan said the session has been a great benefit in many ways. He said it not only focused world attention on the AIDS pandemic but also provided participants with new ideas and contacts that can used when they return home. Of special importance, Mr. Annan said, is the fact that so many AIDS activists from non-governmental organizations participated.
The secretary-general conceded that some of those activists, such as one from a homosexual rights organization, stirred controversy among U.N. members. But he said the controversy was actually a good thing. "In the last few days some painful differences have been brought into the open," he said. "But that is the best place for them. Like AIDS itself, these differences need to be confronted head on - not swept under the carpet."
Mr. Annan said the special session has made it clear that women should be in the forefront of the fight against AIDS and that they must be educated and empowered to deal with the disease.
At the briefing, the secretary-general held up a check for $1,000, a donation from a private individual to the Global AIDS Fund. More than $500 million has so far been pledged to the fund that will be used to finance prevention and care, especially in poorer nations. Donations are being solicited from everywhere including governments, private businesses, foundations, and individuals.