Statement from Deborah von Zinkernagel, Acting U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, On the Passing of Nelson Mandela


December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela will be remembered for many things. His extraordinary courage, profound passion, and gentle, but strong voice are just a few of the qualities that we will forever treasure and truly miss as this giant of a man leaves our world behind. In the fight against HIV/AIDS, we have lost a truly inspirational leader. As AIDS ravaged his beloved country, he declared, “Let us give publicity to HIV/AIDS and not hide it, because the only way to make it appear like a normal illness like TB, like cancer, is always to come out and say somebody has died because of HIV/AIDS, and people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary.” His words and public acknowledgment that his son had died of AIDS helped shed light on a disease that only knew darkness. And the work of the Nelson Mandela Foundation has brought his words to life – raising awareness and improving and saving countless lives.

As the world moves closer to achieving an AIDS-free generation, we must find comfort in the fact that Nelson Mandela is smiling down on us and cheering us on in this fight. From him, we have learned that what often seems impossible can, with time and energy, be truly possible.


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