BRAMA, June 9, 2005, 3:00 am ET
Richard Gere, Russian, and Ukrainian leaders come together to call attention to surging HIV/AIDS epidemic in Eurasia
(L-R) Dmitry Blyumkin (MTV Russia), John Tedstrom (TPAA President), Richard Gere, Drew Altman (Kaiser Foundation, CEO)
New York, June 9, 2005 - American actor Richard Gere led over 130 guests at a special dinner today intended to call attention to the surging HIV/AIDS epidemics in Russia and Ukraine and expand collaboration between the United States and these countries to help stop the spread of this disease. The event was the capstone of three days of official meetings in Washington and New York by a senior delegation of Russian policy leaders, business executives, and media representatives organized by the non-governmental organization Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS (TPAA).
Valery Zubov, Deputy Chairman of the Russian parliament's Credit and Financial Market Committee and former Governor of Krasnoyarsk province, led the Russian delegation during its visit to the United States this week. Their official meetings included stops at the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of State, and an HIV/AIDS clinic in Manhattan. Their message was clear - Russia and the United States must consider their joint effort to fight HIV/AIDS as important as their collaboration on nuclear non-proliferation or cooperation in space. Additional delegation members included Vladimir Golovnev, Co-Chairman of the "Business Russia" Association and President of the Association of Textile and Light Industries Enterprises, and Dmitry Blyumkin, Marketing Director at MTV-Russia.
"We must acknowledge that HIV/AIDS is a growing strategic threat to Russia's society, economy and national security," said Mr. Zubov. "In order to beat this epidemic, Russian policymakers, government experts, public organizations, business leaders, mass media, and people living with HIV should act together with our international partners, especially the United States. Russia must urgently address this problem with increased resources, serious political leadership, and expanded prevention and treatment efforts."
Ukrainian Ambassador Valery Kuchinsky with Leo Hindery, Jr.
Among the many special guests on hand at tonight's event were Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations Valeriy Kuchinsky, Russian Consul General in New York, Sergey Garmonin; UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Asia, Dr. Nafis Sadik; former Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Konstantin Gryshchenko; and, award-winning fashion designer Helen Yarmak. Also present were leaders from corporations and organizations active in the fight against AIDS in Russia and Ukraine, including the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the World Bank, the MAC AIDS Fund, Viacom, the BMS Foundation, Pfizer, Inc., Merck & Co., ChevronTexaco, the US- Russia Business Council, and many others. CTC Media, AeroSvit Ukrainian Airlines, and the Asia Society sponsored the event.
"By your presence here tonight, you demonstrate your commitment to joining this noble fight. Only by working together can we hope to stem the spread of this terrible disease and contribute to a healthier, more secure future in Eurasia," said John Tedstrom, President of Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS.
The event included the presentation of TPAA's first Founders' Award to its Chairman Emeritus and co-Founder, Leo Hindery, Jr., honoring his iron commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS worldwide. For nearly two decades, Mr. Hindery has used his leadership positions in some of the United States' top media and telecommunications companies to draw attention to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, to fight discrimination and to promote prevention programs and access to treatment.
Mr. Hindery said: "It is humbling to accept this Award, and it is thanks to the unstinting efforts of the truly remarkable people of TPAA and of my co-chairs that this three-country, multi-party partnership is now fighting every day to save lives from this brutal epidemic."
Mr. Kuchinsky with Jackie Judd (KFF VP Sr. Advisor for Communications)
About HIV/AIDS in Russia & Ukraine
Russia and Ukraine have emerged as new epicenters in the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, registering among the world's fastest growing rates of new infection. Experts estimate that as many as 1.5 million Russians and 500,000 Ukrainians are already HIV positive, and the growth rate of new infections is among the highest in the world. Young people are especially at-risk, with over 80 percent of all registered cases of HIV-infection among men and women under age 30. For more information about HIV/AIDS in Ukraine or Russia, visit www.tpaa.net or www.tpaa.ru .
About Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS (TPAA)
Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS (TPAA) is an independent, non-governmental organization - with offices in Kyiv, Moscow and New York - that fights HIV/AIDS in Ukraine, Russia, and neighboring countries by raising awareness, strengthening political will, providing policy research, and supporting government, business, and media responses to the epidemic. For more information, visit TPAA online at: www.tpaa.net and www.tpaa.ru.