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World AIDS Day Organizers Hope to Refocus Attention on Pandemic - 2001-11-30

The UNAIDS organization is putting special emphasis on the power of individuals to help in the fight against HIV/AIDS as it meets to observe World AIDS Day December 1. The United Nations sees this year's World AIDS Day as an occasion to refocus attention on the global resolve to end this epidemic.

The UNAIDS organization's theme for this year's World AIDS Day is: "I Care, Do You?" The latest figures released by the U.N. show that more than 40 million people are now living with HIV/AIDS, an increase of 4 million from last year.

The president of the U.N. General Assembly, Han Seung-Soo, South Korea, says individual concern must be the starting point of any program to eliminate the disease. While everyone should do his or her part to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, he says men, in particular, must play an active role in combating the disease. "Men have a great potential to make a difference in their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS through their own efforts, both individually and collectively," he said. "We need to encourage men as fathers, as sons, as brothers, and as friends to adopt positive attitudes and behaviors."

Since the special session on HIV/AIDS last June, when the secretary-general issued a call to world action, the United Nations says it has moved forward with its objectives.

U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette says that, after this eventful year, the international community now has the tools, the knowledge, and the roadmap to act, but that every individual must act, too. "Thanks to the United Nations General Assembly's Special Session on HIV/AIDS last June, we now have a number of globally-agreed, time-bound goals and commitments," she said. "All of us have a part to play in reaching them."

But financial resources will be needed to meet the goals, and while the global fund to fight AIDS and other infectious diseases is in motion, it is not yet functioning. The U.N. says it is working to make it operational by the end of the year.