Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, December 1, 2004

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Contact: Matt McLean, House International Relations Committee, (202) 226-9968



(Hong Kong)—The following is a prepared statement of Chairman Henry J. Hyde in recognition of World AIDS Day, December 1, 2004:

The numbers are staggering, and the images are heart-wrenching. With a great portion of the 40 million people infected with the AIDS virus living in developing countries, the virus is swarming the earth’s most vulnerable of populations. AIDS is the leading cause of death in Africa – plummeting life expectancy rates on the continent – and has accelerated to become the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.

The HIV/AIDS pandemic must be acted upon as a tier-one issue of international security. With 8,000 deaths and 14,000 infections occurring daily, it is devastating the ranks of school teachers, health care workers, military personnel, entrepreneurs, and other human components that make up the social, economic, and public-sector drivers in developing regions. Most critically, it is devastating families, where millions of parents have been lost and an entire generation of orphans has been created.

Last year, the Congress authorized the President’s request to provide $15 billion over five years to lead the global effort in combating the pandemic in the world’s hardest hit places. With these resources now flowing, my committee will work even more diligently with the President, my fellow members of Congress, and our international partners to ensure that the generosity of the American people is directed toward the most effective strategies to save lives and provide dignity to those who suffer under this most horrible disease. The frustrating dynamism of the virus is now targeting women as the fastest growing segment of society being infected; so, as we pursue our efforts in prevention, treatment, and care, our response must include an increased focus on women and girls.

While the security and policy implications of the AIDS crisis are dire, it ultimately cannot be divided into an American problem, a European problem, an Asian problem, or even an African problem. It is a human problem. Indeed, it is our humanity that must be stirred and become the driver of our ingenuity, our labor, and our dedication – not only to respond to this modern-day plague, but also to reverse and eradicate it.

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