Speaking at a Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS awards dinner in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday called AIDS "not just a health care issue" but a foreign policy crisis "every bit as much a crisis as Iraq," The Washington Post reports. "In the three hours or so we have spent here tonight, 1,000 people around the world will have died of AIDS, and over 1,700 people will have become infected."
Powell was joined at the awards ceremony by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (D-Mass.), the Reverend Franklin Graham, former United Nations ambassador and GBC president and CEO Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), World Bank president James Wolfensohn, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, and actress Glenn Close. The GBC was formed in 1998 to encourage businesses to participate in HIV/AIDS efforts worldwide. The group has grown from 17 members in 2001 to 113 members today, including some of the world's biggest corporations, like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, AOL Time Warner, Viacom, and Nike as well as pharmaceutical companies Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Abbott Laboratories.
Holbrooke noted, however, that the business community still needs to do more in the fight against HIV/AIDS. "Most of the business community has still not done more than a fraction of what it should do," he said. "The harsh truth is that far too few companies are fully engaged yet in this fight."