'Paint Them Red White and Blue'

10 Oct 2003
Addressing the UNA-USA Global Leadership Awards, Bono urged world leaders to get vital drugs into Africa to fight the AIDS pandemic.

'AIDS is still a problem in the U.S. and Europe, but what's going on in Africa is a different thing completely," he said, speaking on behalf of DATA at the New York ceremony. 'It's an emergency.'

He urged politicians to participate in the healing of a continent that is in dire need of assistance from the rich nations.

'Seven thousand Africans are dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease. And we have the drugs,' he said, underlining the crucial role the United States could play in combating the AIDS epidemic, which killed 2.3 million Africans in 2001.

'Right now, there's a problem in the world the way people perceive us in the West. With these drugs, we can change the way they see us, we can change lives, transform communities. 'I say to the President and to corporate America: See these drugs as advertisements for you. Paint them red, white and blue if that's what you want. But get them to the people who need them and the way the United States will be perceived will change.'

In this year's State of the Union address, President Bush announced a $15 billion effort to combat the spread of AIDS in Africa and elsewhere. Bono said he hopes the administration will make good on that commitment, even despite the rising cost of reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq. 'Eighty-seven billion for two countries is a lot, but we're looking for $3 billion this year for a whole continent,' he said 'I know that there are people in this administration who want to do this and who want to give us what we want, but there are also other people who don't. I hope we prevail.'

He also stressed that young people who care about the spread of AIDS abroad can do something very real about it at home. 'The thing about the MTV audience is it's an active one. If they can communicate to politicians that this is an important issue for them, the politicians are very, very nervous in an election year of what [young people] think of them.'

Bono presented the UNA-USA Global Humanitarian Action Award to Alex Godwin Coutinho, M.D., M.P.H, the Executive Director of The AIDS Support Organization (TASO), based in Africa. The Global Leadership and Humanitarian Action Awards are presented to people -- typically doctors, health-care workers and nongovernmental organizations -- fighting the spread of AIDS abroad.


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