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TIMES are dangerous. The war in Iraq is creating further human suffering and may increase the level of uncertainty around the world. Meanwhile HIV/AIDS remains more than ever a terrible threat for humanity. In this issue we wish to show how the Movement is fully mobilized on both emergencies.

A western government of?cial once described the HIV/AIDS pandemic as "a catastrophe worse than terrorism". With words like that one could be fooled into believing that the international community is mobilizing all its resources to fight this modern-day plague. But despite the magnitude of the problem — most recent figures estimate that 42 million people are living with HIV/AIDS and another 3 million died from it in 2002 alone — the response is still too little and too late.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is a major participant in the fight against the spread and in the care of those already infected with it. In southern Africa, Red Cross volunteers are helping thousands of people living with AIDS cope with food insecurity. In China, where future projections indicate that infection rates will equal those of the hardest hit African countries in the next 20 years, the Red Cross was the first to educate young people openly about the disease and facilitate self-help amongst those living with the virus. On a more global level, numerous Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are taking part in an international campaign to fight HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.

This magazine has featured regularly profiles of Movement efforts to stem the tide of the virus. For the first time we decided to do an extended cover story highlighting the different trends and facts related to HIV/AIDS. The aim is not only to promote Red Cross and Red Crescent initiatives, but also to support efforts to raise greater awareness both inside and outside the Movement of the pandemic's impact.

And although we can only add our voice to the thousands of calls for action, hopefully, it will increase the pressure on world leaders to back up their fine words with more concrete actions.

Jean Milligan
Federation editor

Jean-François Berger
ICRC editor

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