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Rice Marks World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day, observed this month, is an occasion for people and governments around the world to remember the more than forty million people who are living with the Human Immune Deficiency Virus, which causes AIDS. Over two million of those affected with the virus are children.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, "All those who have the power to ease suffering and to save lives also have a moral responsibility to do so":

"Nearly three years ago, President [George W.] Bush made a promise to all who are afflicted with or affected by this disease. He pledged that America would do more to help and he launched a five-year, fifteen-billion dollar effort – the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief – which represents the largest international initiative ever by one nation to combat a single disease."

Ms. Rice says that the U.S. is working to combat HIV/AIDS in one-hundred-twenty-three countries, with a focus on the fifteen hardest hit nations in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. These nations together account for over half of the world's infected people. On World AIDS Day, President Bush announced that the United States is now supporting treatment for over 400,000 people in these fifteen nations.

"The emergency plan is helping us to meet our five-year strategic goal of preventing seven million new infections, treating two million individuals who are living with AIDS, and caring for ten million people who are afflicted with and affected by the disease, including orphaned children."

According to a United Nations report, the most dramatic decrease in H-I-V/AIDS is taking place in Kenya. The rate dropped from ten percent in the late 1990s to seven percent in 2003. Dr. Patrick Orege is director of Kenya's National AIDS Control Council. He says Kenya has voluntary testing and counseling programs, known as V-C-T's, an initiative to reduce pregnant H-I-V – positive women from passing the virus on to their babies, and the A-B-C behavior change strategies, which promote abstinence, being faithful, and correct and consistent use of condoms:

"One is the enhanced campaign. Two, there is increased condom use. Three we have put in P-M-C-T's, mother to child transmission (programs), scaled up V-C-T services where people now know their status and take appropriate decisions, intensive campaign on behavior change including abstinence among the youth."

"If we sustain our commitment," says Secretary of State Rice, "we will one day bring hope to all who are living in the shadow of H-I-V/AIDS."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.