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A gay-rights parade in Riga (file photo) (ITAR-TASS)
June 1, 2006 -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on countries, particularly in the Islamic world, to involve prostitutes and homosexuals in campaigns to prevent and treat AIDS.
Annan was speaking at the start of a three-day UN meeting yesterday on how best to combat the disease.
"We need to be able to protect the most vulnerable, and if we are here to try and end the epidemic and fight the epidemic, we will not succeed by putting our head in the sand and pretending that these people do not exist or that they do not need help," he said. "We need to help them and we need to resist any attempt to prevent us from recognizing the need for action and assistance to these people."
Islamic countries and some Catholic nations oppose the mention of prostitutes, homosexuals or drug users, referring to them only as "vulnerable groups" in a final conference statement that governments are negotiating.