The Fixer Takes on Global AIDS
June 11, 2002
The maverick diplomat who risked everything to restore peace in Bosnia has taken on an even more daunting challenge -- slowing the global march of AIDS. Former ambassador Richard Holbrooke, now an investment banker and president of Global Business Council on HIV/AIDS (GBC), has spent the past two years recruiting corporate titans to the fight.
Holbrooke, vice chairman of the equity firm Perseus, says mankind has no choice but to end "the worst epidemic in 600 years" because it poses a major threat to peace and stability worldwide. He notes that HIV/AIDS already kills 3 million people a year in sub-Saharan Africa alone. "Any public or private official who has a role to play in the world today will someday look back and ask 'How did I not do anything about HIV'?" he said. "It would be like looking back to the 1930s and saying, 'How did I not do anything about the rise of Hitler?'"
This week, the GBC and the International AIDS Trust -- founded by former Clinton AIDS czar Sandra Thurman -- will host a gala in New York to raise funds and honor corporations that have distinguished themselves against AIDS.
During his extensive 1999 trip to Africa, Holbrooke came to the conclusion that AIDS was a security issue of the most urgent proportions. And he went to work speaking with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He was instrumental in the UN Security Council meeting held in January 2000 that elevated AIDS to security threat level. The session opened the door to three subsequent Security Council meetings and an unprecedented UN resolution addressing AIDS among UN peacekeeping forces.
Wednesday night's Global Business Council on HIV/AIDS gala will honor outgoing coalition chair Bill Roedy, president of MTV International. The Rev. Franklin Graham will offer the benediction. CBS anchorman Dan Rather will be master of ceremonies. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former president Bill Clinton (board chairman of the AIDS trust) and R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe will speak.
06.11.02; Steve Sternberg
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.