AIDS Summit Opens with Renewed Calls to Action

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan Reuters hide caption

itoggle caption Reuters
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the unchecked spread of AIDS would place more burdens on weak economic regions. Reuters hide caption

itoggle caption Reuters

The 15th International AIDS Conference opened in Bangkok with calls from government leaders and activists for the world to step up efforts to stop the disease. It's the biggest AIDS meeting ever, attracting 17,000 people from around the world.

At the opening ceremony, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said new rises in AIDS infection rates prove that the world has not done enough to combat the deadly disease. If the world's nations do not unite to combat the spread of AIDS, he warned, the disease will become a drain on economic and social resources.

Thailand's prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, emphasized what AIDS has done to the world since the early 1980s, stating that within this relatively short period of time, AIDS has killed more than 20 million people, a figure that surpasses any single cause of death in modern history. NPR's Richard Knox reports from the first day of the conference.

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