◆2003/01/08 Stephen Lewis "The Lack of Funding for HIV/AIDS Is Mass Murder by Complacency"
AIDS Patients Hidden Victims of Any Iraq War--UN
June 9 2003
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A senior UN official warned on Wednesday that a
war against Iraq would "eclipse" every other international human priority,
leaving people with AIDS (news - web sites) among its greatest sufferers.
In an impassioned plea for funds, Stephen Lewis, a special UN envoy to
combat AIDS in Africa, told a news conference that the time for polite or
even agitated entreaties was over or the world would be committing "mass
murder by complacency."
"If, as some suggest, there is a war in Iraq come February, then the war
will eclipse every other priority," Lewis said.
AIDS will kill 70 million people over the next 20 years, mostly in Africa,
unless rich nations step up their efforts to curb the disease, according to
UN figures. Last year AIDS killed a record 3 million people, 2.2 million in
Africa alone--and HIV (news - web sites) infected another 5 million
"People living with HIV/AIDS are in a race against time," Lewis said. "What
they never imagined was that over and above the virus itself, there would be
a new adversity and that adversity would be a war."
"Wars divert attention, wars consume resources, wars ride roughshod over
external calamities," Lewis added.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS has receive pledges for about $2.5 billion
dollars but not all the money has been received. However, UN estimates say
the fund will need $3.2 billion this year, increasing in stages to $9.2
billion in 2005.
"If the United States and the other members of the Group of Seven don't
augment their contributions to the Global Fund in the immediate future, we
will be in desperate trouble," Lewis said, adding that the fund had enough
money until the end of January but then "can be said to be in crisis."
Reporting on a trip to Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Lewis said all
were engaged in endless numbers of initiatives, projects, programs and
models. If broadened throughout the country, the pandemic would be halted.
"What is required is a combination of political will and resources," he
said. "The political will is increasingly there. The money is not."