U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Susan E. Rice today stated AIDS-related illnesses have claimed more than 25 million lives-far more than the death toll of any conflict during these past 30 years.
At the Security Council Debate on HIV/AIDS and International Security, Ms.Rice noted that just over a decade ago, the visionary leadership of former Vice President Al Gore andlate Richard Holbrooke, the Security Council took a monumental step to tackle the AIDS scourge.
“We are now entering the fourth decade of our collective struggle against this global pandemic. But the Council’s pledge to lessen the security implications of HIV/AIDS must not lose any of its urgency.”-Ms. Rice
According to Ms. Rice, the AIDS scourge has spared no region or nation on Earth, including my own. She said in all, more than 60 million people have been infected, and 16 million children have been orphaned.
Ms. Rice highlighted that two decades of often heroic international efforts to extend the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS have significantly alleviated the health effects of the disease. She noted that still most people living with HIV still lack access to treatment. She stressed that for every person who starts treatment, two more become infected.
“Even beyond this unfathomable human toll, there are very real security consequences of HIV/AIDS. Consider first the toll on human security. It strains communities, fractures families, reduces economic productivity, drives people into poverty, and pressures health sectors that are often already struggling to cope.”-Ms. Rice
Ms. Rice underscored that HIV/AIDS also has specific and complex links to more traditional security threats. In the last 30 years, the patterns of HIV/AIDS transmission and impact have evolved, and so has the world’s knowledge about the disease’s impact on security.
According to Ms. Rice, when conflicts end, societies are more vulnerable to HIV-a particularly cruel burden on vulnerable populations and countries struggling to rebuild after conflicts. She said stressed that such states often find it especially difficult to ensure continuity of HIV prevention and AIDS treatment precisely when institutions are weak, capacities are low, and displaced populations are returning to their homes.