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UN Chief Calls HIV-AIDS 'Greatest Challenge'

  • VOA News

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says HIV-AIDS has changed the world and become the "greatest challenge" to this generation.

Mr. Annan spoke on Friday on the final day of a three-day AIDS conference at U.N. headquarters in New York.

He said that last year there were more new infections and deaths from HIV-AIDS than ever before, and more women and girls living with the illness.

U.S. First Lady Laura Bush called on countries to improve literacy and educate citizens on how the virus is transmitted. She also said the ABC model -- which means abstinence, be faithful and use condoms -- has led to a dramatic decline in infections in young people in parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot described AIDS as a long-term development crisis, and called for a final document that, among other things, moves more quickly toward universal HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

Those also addressing the conference today included the presidents of the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, the Central African Republic and El Salvador.

A draft final declaration from the conference calls for spending 23 billion dollars a year to fight and treat HIV-AIDS by 2010.

UNAIDS said in a report earlier this week that 25 million people have died of AIDS since the disease was first documented a quarter-century ago.

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