Sweden appoints AIDS ambassador
BY Advocate.com Editors
November 22 2003 1:00 AM ET
Sweden has appointed a career diplomat to serve as the nation's special ambassador for HIV/AIDS, making the country the first in the world to create an ambassador-level office to address the AIDS epidemic. Lennart Hjelmaker, who served for five years at the Swedish embassy in Kenya and five years at the embassy in Zimbabwe, was named to the new position. He said his efforts will focus on slowing HIV's spread in sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia. He noted that more than 60 million people worldwide have been infected with HIV since the beginning of the pandemic. "If we cannot turn the trend, there's a risk that we will have another 45 million infected people around the year 2010," he said. Hjelmaker said that one of his goals as special ambassador is to try to convince the Catholic Church that condoms are needed in the fight against AIDS.