"If there is one thing we have learned in the two decades of this epidemic, it is that in the world of AIDS, silence is death," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, urging the media companies to broadcast more public service messages and educational shows and also to explore AIDS themes in their regular programming.

Annan organized the Global Media AIDS Initiative with help from Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Drew Altman, president and chief executive of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

"If there is one thing we have learned in the two decades of this epidemic, it is that in the world of AIDS, silence is death"

Kofi Annan
UN Secretary-General
 

"You are joining into something where there is very much positive momentum, but we're not even doing half of what should be done," said Gates, whose Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has given extensive support to the search for an AIDS vaccine.

"The challenge for all of you is to think about how to raise visibility," he told the group.

Expand knowledge

After a three-hour round-table meeting, all 22 executives signed a declaration resolving "through our companies to expand public knowledge and understanding about HIV/AIDS." HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

Among participating media companies were the BBC, Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria, China Central TV, Russia's Gazprom-Media, Brazil's Globo International, NHK Japan Broadcasting Corp., Time Warner Inc., France's TV5, Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. International, South African Broadcasting Corp. and Spain's Radiotelevision Espanola.