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International News

Canadian Diplomat Says Celebs Like Oprah Winfrey May Hold Key to AIDS Cure

January 26, 2004

In an interview yesterday, Stephen Lewis, UN special envoy on HIV/AIDS, said celebrity attention, such as talk-show host Oprah Winfrey's visit to Zambia, may be the key to fighting the AIDS pandemic sweeping Africa. "To go to a country as poor as Zambia, struggling as hard as Zambia, was ... quite a jolt and reinforced her determination to do something," said Lewis. Winfrey traveled to Zambia last year and later broadcast a show about her experiences with AIDS orphans.

Lewis, who was in Saskatoon for a weekend symposium on HIV/AIDS, said that ideally, celebrities should not be the ones taking up the cause. "It should be major politicians in major countries who are the voice, supporting what Africa wants to do," said Lewis.

According to Lewis, efforts to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS have not lessened its devastating effects on African society. "When you're on the ground, the situation remains appalling and the death remains ubiquitous and the desperation is everywhere," he said, adding that help cannot come fast enough. "Every time you go back, all the people you saw six months or 12 months ago are dead," Lewis noted.

Lewis, named Canadian of the Year for 2003 by Maclean's magazine, said there are glimmers of hope, including the Canadian government's proposal to make cheap, generic drugs readily available in Africa -- a proposal Lewis said Prime Minister Paul Martin seems willing to turn into reality.

Back to other news for January 26, 2004

Adapted from:
Canadian Press
01.26.04


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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