Lewis questions results of G8 Summit; calls for independent, international women's agency; challenges scientists to engage in campaign of advocacy. Statement by Stephen Lewis, UN Envoy on HIV / AIDS in Africa, at the opening of the 3rd International AIDS Society Conference, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 24 July 2005.
This is a meeting of scientists and experts in the world of AIDS. I am neither a scientist nor an expert. I'm an observer. I have spent the last four years, traveling through Africa, primarily southern Africa, watching people die. I think I understand, better than most, why your collective scientific and academic work can be said to be the most important ongoing work on the planet. But precisely because the work you do speaks to the rescue of the human condition, you carry an immense public and international authority. I beg you never to underestimate that authority. And I beg you to use it beyond the realms of science. What we desperately need in the response to AIDS today are voices of advocacy: tough, unrelenting, informed. The issues are so intense, the situation is so precarious for millions of people, the virus cuts such a swath of pain and desolation, that your voices, as well as your science, must be summoned and heard. (excerpt)