Paris — France’s glamorous first lady threw her considerable star power behind the global fight against AIDS on Monday, as the world tallied the victims of the HIV virus that infects a new person every 15 seconds.
As ceremonies marked World AIDS Day, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy signed on to become a goodwill ambassador for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which said it has provided lifesaving treatment to 2 million people living with HIV worldwide.
“I think the world has become used to AIDS,” the model-turned-singer told a news conference in Paris. “We no longer see it as a scandal or an emergency.”
Bruni-Sarkozy, who lost her brother Virginio to AIDS two years ago, said her work will focus on helping women and children infected with HIV, the virus that causes the disease. She pledged to fight the stigma that is still attached to AIDS in many countries.
“There is no greater cruelty than to be excluded from your own family and your own community because you are infected with a deadly disease,” she said.
Some 500,000 children are born each year infected with HIV and 290,000 of them died in 2007 as a result, the Global Fund said. With access to antiretroviral drugs, the risk of virus transmission from an HIV-positive mother to her baby can be slashed to less than 5 percent, it added.