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XIV International AIDS Conference
Clinton, Mandela: Epidemic a Threat to Global Stability

audio icon Listen to Nelson Mandela and Former President Clinton.

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Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (R) and former South African President Nelson Mandela at the global AIDS conference closing ceremony.
Copyright 2002 Reuters Limited

Kenyan children orphaned by AIDS. The children live in Nairobi's Kibera slum. It's said to be the biggest slum in Africa, with a population estimated at 1 million, including more than 50,000 AIDS orphans.
Photo: Richard Harris, NPR News

Conference Highlights

Listen to Bill Clinton's closing ceremony speech.

Listen to an excerpt from Nelson Mandela's closing ceremony speech.

USAID, UNAIDS and UNICEF release a joint report on children orphaned by AIDS. Read the Children on the Brink 2002 report.

Video | Transcript Dani Bolognesi, CEO of Trimeris, and James Tomass from Roche discuss T20, an emerging treatment for HIV/AIDS.

Video | Transcript Judy Auerbach, of the National Institutes of Health Office of AIDS Research, talks about HIV prevention successes and challenges.

Video | Transcript HHS Secretary Thompson discusses the Bush administration's commitment to the global AIDS fight.

Video | Transcript The U.S. CDC's Ron Valdiserri gives an update on the HIV epidemic in the United States.

Video | Transcript UNAIDS director Peter Piot's opening ceremony speech.

Photo Essay AIDS orphans in Botswana.

July 12, 2002 -- Former world leaders Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela closed the international conference on AIDS Friday, telling delegates that the world must recognize the threat AIDS poses to global stability and security.

"AIDS is a war against humanity," former South African President Mandela said. "This is a war which requires total mobilization of the entire population."

Mandela, whose country suffers from one of the highest HIV infection rates, said access to drugs and therapies that have turned HIV into a manageable condition for many must be made universal:

"We must find ways and means to make life-saving treatment available to all who need it regardless of whether they can pay for it or where they live," he said.

Throughout the weeklong conference, delegates heard about a number of new, more effective therapies with the potential to improve and extend the lives of those infected with HIV. But researchers warned against the notion that there will be a cure for AIDS or a vaccine to prevent it anytime soon.

But the social, political and economic implications of the growing worldwide epidemic took much of the conference spotlight.

Former U.S. President Clinton, who co-chaired the conference with Mandela, warned that no nation can afford to ignore the disease:

"We cannot lose our war against AIDS and win our battle against poverty, promote stability, advance democracy and increase peace and prosperity."

Across the globe, 20 million people have died so far of AIDS, 40 million are infected and another 25 million may be infected by the end of the decade.

"One hundred million AIDS cases means more terror, more mercenaries, more war, destruction, and the failure of fragile democracies," Clinton said.

When AIDS and TB Collide

Another epidemic, one intertwined with AIDS, is sweeping the globe: tuberculosis.

TB is an airborne disease and is easily spread. It kills 2 million people a year, and it's the leading cause of death among women of childbearing age.

The two epidemics are fueling each other, with HIV-ravaged immune systems susceptible to TB, which often then kills the victim.

The diseases are taking a toll on the effort to control TB in sub-Saharan Africa. In the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, for example, TB cases have increased seven-fold over the past decade. Today, there are more TB cases in Nairobi, with a population of 3 million, than in the entire United States.

As NPR's Richard Harris reports from Nairobi, local health workers as well as international experts are trying to find new ways to fight both diseases at the same time.

More on the story.

More NPR Coverage:

Weigh in on the global -- or local -- fight against HIV/AIDS at the NPR discussion board.

audio icon Economic Stability Experts say the number of people infected with HIV is so staggering that the epidemic is no longer just a medical problem. The peace and economic stability of the hardest hit countries are at risk. NPR's Frank Browning reports. Morning Edition, July 12, 2002.

audio icon AIDS Orphans NPR's Frank Browning reports on grim new statistics about children orphaned by HIV. Morning Edition, July 11, 2002.

audio icon AIDS in China NPR's Rob Gifford reports that China is under fire at the global AIDS conference. China has acknowledged its HIV problem only recently, and it may be too late to avert a major epidemic. Morning Edition, July 11, 2002.

audio icon HIV Strains NPR's Richard Knox reports on a study that says people can be infected by multiple strains of the HIV virus. Morning Edition, July 10, 2002.

audio icon HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson NPR's Frank Browning reports that angry demonstrators, mainly U.S. activists, shouted down HHS secretary Tommy Thompson as he gave an address on the U.S. commitment to fighting the epidemic. All Things Considered, July 9, 2002.

audio icon AIDS in Botswana NPR's Lynn Neary talks with Myron Essex, chair of the Harvard AIDS Institute, about the AIDS epidemic in Botswana. All Things Considered, July 9, 2002.

audio icon New Drug Treatments NPR's Frank Browning reports on new AIDS drugs, including T20. Morning Edition, July 9, 2002.

audio icon AIDS in Brazil NPR's Martin Kaste reports on the controversy over AIDS drugs in Brazil. Morning Edition, July 9, 2002.

audio icon AIDS in Russia NPR's Lawrence Sheets reports from Moscow that Russia is the next country to face a large-scale AIDS epidemic. All Things Considered, July 8, 2002.

audio icon New Drug Treatments NPR's Frank Browning reports that new experimental AIDS drugs may be available soon. All Things Considered, July 8, 2002.

audio icon TOTN Discussion Participants in the Barcelona conference talk about what they are learning about the spread of AIDS, and their best hopes for fighting it. Talk of the Nation, July 8, 2002.

audio icon AIDS Predictions NPR's Frank Browning reports that conversations at the conference consist largely of grim predictions and dire warnings. Morning Edition, July 8, 2002.

audio icon Conference Convenes NPR's Frank Browning reports on the start of the 14th International Conference on AIDS, which opened Sunday in Barcelona, Spain. All Things Considered, July 7, 2002.

audio icon Drug Treatments NPR's Richard Knox reports that one of the topics to be discussed at the AIDS conference is the recovery rates of patients taking new AIDS cocktails. The treatment has critics, who believe more effort should be made in methods to prevent AIDS. Weekend Edition Sunday, July 7, 2002.

audio icon Conference Preview Listen to a conference preview on Talk of the Nation: Science Friday. July 5, 2002.