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YOUR WORLD TODAY

World AIDS Day; War in Iraq

Aired December 1, 2005 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.
JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: From Nairobi to New Delhi, activists mark World AIDS Day by taking steps to bring awareness to the deadly disease.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: How many people had a full meal today?

(LAUGHTER)

GUPTA: How many people know somebody's who's died of HIV?

Wow. Everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In a country once ravaged by genocide, our medical correspondent reports on how Rwandans are living with AIDS.

CLANCY: And eying the polls. We are going to tell you what Americans think about the U.S. president's plan for victory in Iraq.

It's right now 10:30 p.m. in New Delhi, 12:00 noon in Washington.

I'm Jim Clancy.

MCEDWARDS: And I'm Colleen McEdwards.

Welcome to our viewers throughout the world. This is CNN International and this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

The United Nations describes it this way: an exceptional global threat that requires an equally exceptional response.

MCEDWARDS: That's right. We begin with international efforts to curb the spread of HIV and AIDS on this World AIDS Day.

CLANCY: And despite the progress, Colleen, that's been made in some key areas -- we've heard about that -- the number of people living in HIV today has never been higher.

MCEDWARDS: That's right. And we are going to see actually which countries are the hardest hit and what it is like to actually live with HIV as we go continent to continent in our coverage.

CLANCY: All right. Now first, just an idea of how widespread the disease is. Forty million people worldwide now infected with HIV. More than 3 million people died of AIDS this year.

U.S. President George W. Bush says the United States is determined to help shrink those numbers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the United States, over a million of our citizens face this chronic condition. At the start of this century, AIDS causes suffering from remote villages of Africa to the heart of America's big cities. This danger has multiplied by indifference and complacency. This danger will be overcome by compassion, honesty, and decisive action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLANCY: Now, around the world, people are marking World AIDS Day with events to try to raise awareness.

In India, the country only second to South Africa for the number of HIV cases, has volunteers taking their final steps on this, a three -- a year-long walk across the country. They covered more than 6,800 kilometers, ending up in New Delhi.

China marking World AIDS Day with public awareness campaigns that are aimed at millions of migrant workers. Health officials visited construction sites across the country handing out condoms, as well as information packs.

MCEDWARDS: Well, Africa is the continent hardest hit by AIDS. And here are some statistics that may shock you. It has only 10 percent of the world's population, but more than half of all the people living with HIV. And that is a total of 25.8 million people out of about 40 million people who suffer from HIV worldwide.

Perhaps one of the most staggering statistics is this. The U.N. estimates that one in every 14 African adults suffers from HIV. One in 14.

The pandemic is also taking a huge toll on children. AIDS has left some 17 million on the African continent without any parents.

CLANCY: We focus in on Africa because that is where the problem, as Colleen described it, is the worst. Now, there's a new study in the "New England Journal of Medicine" that says this. AIDS medication triples -- triples -- the survival rate of even the poorest and the sickest patients.

Now, our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta traveled to Rwanda, where doctors have pioneered a new drug therapy and taken that to Africa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice over): This is a meeting of the local AIDS association, Francuabu (ph) District, eastern Rwanda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Let me tell you, AIDS, I know you. I can fight you. I can fight you because I know you.

Some of my sisters and brothers died because of AIDS.

GUPTA: About one Rwandan in 10 is infected with the HIV virus. Sadly, in Sub-Saharan Africa, that's par for the course.

(on camera): How many people had a full meal today?

(LAUGHTER)

GUPTA: How many people know somebody who's died of HIV?

Wow. Everybody. Just about every single person.

(voice over): But here, in the most unlikely of places, is a kind of oasis, what amounts to a first-rate hospital in a Third World environment. It's run by the Boston-based group Partners in Health.

DR. MICHAEL RICH, PARTNERS IN HEALTH: This is almost the same conditions as Haiti. So it's very, very similar.

GUPTA: In Haiti, Partners in Health proved patients in poor countries would stick to a treatment regimen -- that if medication was available, patients could get better if they also got nourishment. You see, without food, the medicine won't work. Here, every AIDS patient and their family gets at least a six-month food supply.

RICH: A lot of organizations are going in and starting up HIV programs, and they're being very specific that they're treating HIV, but they're not addressing some of the other problems. And we have the complete opposite philosophy, that we can't just go in and say, you know, sorry, you don't have HIV, we can't help you.

GUPTA (on camera): When we first arrived here, the 10-foot brush outside had been cleared. But there was still a lot of work to do.

The hospital had only been half rebuilt. They'd still need an operating room and lots of medical supplies. This room could be a patient ward, but they need fresh paint, new windows, and at least 15 to 20 beds.

(voice over): At least the pharmacy was stocked, and there was no shortage of patients. The project was made possible with money from Rwanda's government and with help from the Clinton Foundation, which brokered a deal that lowered the cost of AIDS-fighting medicine from around $10,000 a year per patient to less than 500.

But money alone can't buy hope. It takes political will, hard work, and in eastern Rwanda, a bicycle.

Jean Claude (ph) is a volunteer. He rides through the countryside visiting the same two patients day after day, delivering AIDS medication, making sure they take it, asking about their health. One of Jean Claude's charges is John Kanangwe (ph). Before the new hospital was built, he spent his small life savings on doctors, who could offer little in the way of help. Now on antiviral medication, he's getting stronger.

(on camera): What would have happened if you didn't get the medicine?

JOHN KANANGWE, AIDS PATIENT (through translator): I would have died.

GUPTA: Like Kanangwe, his community is slowly but surely coming back to life.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, in Rwanda.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCEDWARDS: The worldwide AIDS pandemic is the subject of our question of the day today.

CLANCY: That's right. We are asking this simple question. Is there more hope today for people living with AIDS than there was five years ago?

E-mail us your thoughts. Keep them brief, and send them to us by email at YWT@CNN.com. And as always, don't forget to include your name.

MCEDWARDS: And let us know where you are writing from as well. We'll get some of them on the air.

CLANCY: All right.

MCEDWARDS: All right. Now to the battle for the hearts and minds of the American public. A day after the White House launched a fresh offensive in the public opinion battle over the Iraq war, a new poll shows the president's remarks about his strategy for victory in Iraq met with a lot of skepticism.

Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll, joins us now. And Frank, we make a lot of this in the media, of course. The editorial pages are full of it today. But was the average American really watching here?

FRANK NEWPORT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GALLUP POLL: No, they were not, Colleen. And I think that's a very important point. It shows how difficult it is for an American president to affect public opinion with just a speech, particularly one that was done in the middle of the day, wasn't in primetime, and so on and so forth.

Here's what we found last night. Two-thirds -- 66 percent -- of Americans said not only had they not seen the speech live, they really had not heard, seen or read anything about the speech as of last night. Only 10 percent, typically Republicans, saw it live. And another 24 percent saw some coverage of it on the news, but a lot of Americans simply were not aware of the particulars of the speech at all.

Now, with that said, I can say the poll last night showed structurally there's some good news and bad news for the president. This is some good news. This, I don't think, was a result of the speech, but shows the preexisting attitudes that Americans tend to agree that U.S. troops should be withdrawn from Iraq only when goals are achieved, not following a timetable. That's one of his major points last night.

On the other hand, a little more bad news for President Bush. Over half of Americans -- 55 percent -- say he does not have a clear plan for victory in Iraq. And we don't think the speech last night, at least from what we can tell, is really changing those perceptions.

MCEDWARDS: So is there any optimism? I mean, do you get a sense that people are optimistic that there could be a victory?

NEWPORT: Well, the president had three parts to his speech. He said these are what would need to be done before the U.S. could really say it was a victory and withdrawal all troops.

So we asked the American public, how likely is it that these things are going to happen? And not a lot of optimism.

Less than half -- 47 percent -- of Americans, say that in the next few years Iraq will have a democracy, say, from overthrow.

A little lower percent -- 44 percent -- agreed with the president's second point that there will be an effective police or military presence without U.S. assistance in Iraq.

And finally, only a third of Americans say in the next few years Iraq will be able to keep terrorists from setting up their bases. In fact, a very small percent, less than 20 percent, agree with all three of these.

So at least at this point, Colleen, in answer to your question, the data from last night show that a lot of Americans simply are skeptical that those goals the president outlined will actually be met, even in the next several years, in Iraq.

MCEDWARDS: Skeptical, indeed. Frank Newport, thanks a lot for bringing it all to us. Appreciate it, Frank.

Jim?

CLANCY: Well, one opinion that really counts, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He says military and civilian defense personnel could be doing a better job of spreading the word about the progress that is being made in Iraq -- his examples, some of the advances. General Peter Pace cited the upcoming election, increasing business opportunities, and the nearly 300,000 Iraqis who have had at least some security force training. He agrees with the commander in chief. He says there's no option but victory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEN. PETER PACE, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Failure is not an option. There is no way that we can lose if we maintain our patience and our will, our resolve. But it's also true that inside of that patience and resolve we should execute our mission as smartly as we possibly can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLANCY: That was the general speaking earlier to students at the National Defense University. That's at Fort McNair in Washington.

The White House is going to carry on its campaign to convince the American public it has a plan that will work and will bring victory in Iraq.

MCEDWARDS: All right. We are going to change gears a little bit here. When we return, we're going to go back to more on World AIDS Days.

CLANCY: That's right. How is it affecting the lives of children? And what's being done to address their needs? We'll have a guest and talk about the challenges of children living with AIDS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MCEDWARDS: Welcome back. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

CLANCY: It is an hour of international news here on CNN.

We want to return now to one of our top stories on this World AIDS Day, just what's being done not to find a cure alone, but to distribute effective treatment?

MCEDWARDS: That's right. First, a few key facts and figures about AIDS, though. The number of adults and children living with HIV reached 40.3 million in 2005. And that is the highest level ever.

CLANCY: A total of 3.1 million people died in 2005; 570,000 of them were children.

MCEDWARDS: And this year alone, nearly 5 million people were newly infected with the virus.

CLANCY: That's an important number. Given the figures on how HIV and AIDS are hitting children, what's being done to address their needs? You can't look at children without looking at the overall problem.

We are joined now from Washington by Sally Cowal -- Cowal, I should say. She is the spokesperson on behalf of YouthAIDS and a former deputy director of the joint United Nations program on HIV and AIDS.

Sally, when you look at this problem, there's more hope, people -- people would say. But there's still no vaccine. There's only one way to really prevent getting AIDS, and that's information, isn't it? SALLY COWAL, SPOKESPERSON, YOUTHAIDS: Well, prevention is the most important part of what we can be doing. And prevention is information, especially information provided to young people.

Half of these new 5 million infections that you mentioned coming about in -- during last year were in young people ages 15 to 24. So that's why YouthAIDS and PSI work so hard to reach young people with information, and also with life-saving devices like condoms that they can use to protect themselves.

CLANCY: All right. The realities, are the infection rates going up? Are they going down? Are people paying attention? Are people not as afraid of AIDS as they might have been some years ago?

COWAL: Well, infection rates in most places in the world are in fact going up. In 1995, there were approximately 20 million people living with AIDS. Now there are 40 million people living with AIDS.

Clearly, the fact that there is treatment available for a small number of those people that didn't exist 10 years ago gives some hope. But we had 5 million new infections last year. And we can't continue to indefinitely expand the number of people who need treatment. So we need to do a better job with prevention. And prevention is primarily information to the people at greatest risk.

CLANCY: All right. Where are most of the new cases?

COWAL: Well, most of the new cases are in Sub-Saharan Africa, as they have been. But there are some -- some little pockets of good news in Kenya and in Zimbabwe, as well as urban Haiti. We actually saw a drop in the number of new cases, a drop in the prevalence rate.

CLANCY: All right. All of that -- all that becomes very important because it charts the course that has to be taken here.

Now, I don't want to let you go, Sally, without talking about children that have been affected. One of my friends in Africa once said AIDS is so terrible because it kills both of the parents and it leaves the children orphans and derails their lives.

COWAL: Well, that's absolutely the case. We have an alarming number of orphans. We have an alarming number of grandmothers who are raising whole generations of their children's children.

CLANCY: I think it's 17 million orphans today.

COWAL: That's right. And that's projected to double over the next 10 years or so.

And this not only makes those orphans, some of whom are themselves infected because they were infected by their mothers during the process of being born or being breast-fed, some of them are not infected. But they certainly are vulnerable children. And we know that vulnerable children are much more likely to -- likely themselves to become infected or certainly to run into a whole gamut of other social problems. So they are a terrible tragedy that we need to continue to focus on.

CLANCY: For a long time people said the developing world has to be helped by developed countries like the United States and Europe, and to try to -- you know, to get that kind of assistance. Is that working? Is the program right now that you see on AIDS around the world being effective in its battle?

COWAL: I think the glass is either half full or half empty depending on how you want to look at it. Certainly there have been incredible efforts.

The president's emergency plan on AIDS relief, a $15 billion program over the next four years, is a -- is a signal change. So is the Global Fund on HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis. These are providing many more resources than were available to fight this pandemic a few years ago.

It is making a difference. I cited a few countries which are actually making some progress. But there's nowhere near enough being done by governments. And that's why we think we need to get the private sector and individuals even more involved than they've been.

YouthAIDS has done, I think, a very good job at raising awareness. I'm wearing some medals here that are being promoted to raise awareness about AIDS. But also, all the money from these -- and you can get them at the Aldo (ph) shoe stores in the United States, and the United Kingdom and Canada, or over a Web site. And the $5 you pay goes 100 percent to helping a young person in some place in the world get information about prevention. And that's what's going to be key to this.

CLANCY: Money well spent. Sally Cowal, spokesperson on behalf of YouthAIDS. Thank you for being with us on World AIDS Day.

COWAL: Thank you, Jim.

CLANCY: Now, you can see how the world is marking this day on our Web site. Log on to CNN.com/International for the latest on all of the efforts -- and there's many of them -- to try to fight HIV/AIDS.

MCEDWARDS: That's a great idea. Buy a medal, spend $5, the money goes right to someone getting information about it.

CLANCY: And it's information that really makes a difference, I think.

MCEDWARDS: Yes.

A look at what's topping the news in the United States is going to be up next if you are watching in the U.S.

CLANCY: And the rest of us are going to get a report on what's moving the financial markets. And they are moving, Colleen.

MCEDWARDS: They are, indeed.

Also, rising inflation and rising interest rates. We're going to take a closer look at what has been happening in Europe.

Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Daryn Kagan at CNN Center in Atlanta. More of YOUR WORLD TODAY in just a few minutes. First, though, let's check stories making headlines here in the U.S.

A Florida jury is going to begin deliberations today in the sentencing phase of the Carlie Brucia murder trial. Joseph Smith faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole, as we look at live pictures from that Florida courtroom right now. Smith was convicted last month for the kidnapping and murder of the 11-year-old girl. The jury sentencing recommendation does not have to be unanimous.

You might remember the story of Terrell Pough, the teenage dad shot to death outside his Philadelphia home two weeks ago. Today, two Philadelphia men were arraigned in connection with the killing. Police say both men stand accused of murder, robbery, theft and other charges. Authorities say they arrested the men after recovering Pough's stolen car. Pough received the vehicle after he was profiled in "People" magazine for his devotion to his 2-year-old daughter.

In suburban Virginia, the alleged getaway driver in the so-called cell phone bandit case has pleaded guilty. Nineteen-year-old Dave Williams entered a plea to charges of conspiracy to commit bank robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime. Prosecutors say Williams admitted conspiring with Candice Martinez to rob four Northern Virginia banks. Authorities say surveillance video showed Martinez chatting on a cell phone while robbing a bank. Her case is currently before a federal grand jury.

Authorities in Van Nuys, California, trying to find out why a commuter bus collided with a pick-up truck this morning. Three bus passengers were injured in this wreck. It's the fourth accident involving the Metro Orange Line bus service since that service started just a month ago.

Not what two men had in mind when they went to work as window washers in Denver. Those are high winds sending the high-rise window washers on a wild ride. The two men held on for dear life. The rigging was swinging wildly into the windows of the Denver Plaza Tower. Glass rained down on the street below. Firefighters eventually did rescue the two men.

It was 50 years ago today civil rights icon Rosa Parks demonstrated the power of one and refused to surrender her seat on a bus to a white man. That bold step taken in 1955 earned Parks the title Mother of Civil Rights. Today, President Bush praised Parks for galvanizing the civil rights movement. And he signed a bill that will enshrine Parks as the first African-American woman permanently honored in the Capitol's Statuary Hall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By refusing to give in, Rosa Parks showed that one candle can light the darkness. Like so many institutionalized evils, segregation ultimately depended on public accommodation. Like so many institutionalized evils, once the ugliness of these laws was held up to the light, they could not stand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAGAN: And events are under way all over the country commemorating Parks' contribution to the civil rights movement. That is especially true in Montgomery, Alabama, where the arrest triggered a year-long boycott of the city's transit system.

Today, these children are marking the day with a march to the Alabama state capitol.

Snow plows and tow trucks are out in the Pacific Northwest today. And ski resort operators are anticipating a weekend rush. Snow is even falling in the lower elevations of Oregon and Washington. Heavier amounts are predicted farther south in the Sierra Nevada. Wind gusts are also likely with the storm.

Speaking of weather, Chad Myers is the guy we like to talk to about that.

(WEATHER REPORT)

KAGAN: All right, Chad. Thank you on behalf of all the skiers. Thank you.

Coming up live on LIVE FROM at the top of the hour, fighting terror. How to identify a likely suicide bomber and what to do to stop them.

Meanwhile, YOUR WORLD TODAY continues after a quick break. I'm Daryn Kagan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MCEDWARDS: Welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY on CNN International. I'm Colleen McEdwards.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy.

(NEWSBREAK)

MCEDWARDS: And some 70,000 people in China were infected with HIV in the 1980s and the 1990s from tainted blood supplies. The government cracked down on illegal suppliers seven years ago, but some are finding out only now that they are HIV positive.

Tara Duffy spoke with one woman about her efforts to find justice.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TARA DUFFY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "If you don't learn the words, you won't understand what the pictures are about," Liu Xianhong told her son. This 31-year-old mother, who only completed grade five herself, is teaching her eight-year-old at home. Mung Chan (ph) is HIV positive. So is Liu. She pulled him out of school this year.

"The other kids said he wouldn't live for long," she told me. "I felt that's too much pressure on my son. I'm afraid he couldn't take it."

In this rural part of northeast China, ignorance about HIV/AIDS often means discrimination and stigma surround those who are HIV positive and their families. Liu's husband has had trouble finding work since people in their village found out that Liu and her son have HIV. Some 75 percent of people with HIV in China do not know they have virus. Liu only found out this year that she and her son were positive.

She told me, "It felt like the sky was crashing down. I had heard of this disease called AIDS, but didn't realize how serious it was to have it. I was very scared."

She believes she was infected 11 years ago from a blood transfusion after giving birth to her daughter. She and Liu's husband have tested negative for the virus. She said, "I told my husband we should get a divorce. I told him, you are not so old, you can find someone else. I could take care of our son. But he refused. I was really moved. But I feel such a heavy burden."

Liu says one doctor at the hospital later told her that the blood used was obtained illegally. No one else will even acknowledge she was treated there.

She said, "In their hearts, they know the truth. They just won't admit it."

She says she tried repeatedly to speak to the doctors there about what happened. One day she and her extended family went to the hospital once more. Liu says they were met by a group of about 30 men, armed with wooden sticks. They attacked her, her husband, her brother- in-law and her parents-in-law. They only stopped hitting Liu when she said she had AIDS.

She told me, "My husband and my father-in-law were laying on the ground. My husband looked dead, and I was terrified."

A month later, her parents-in-law and her husband were still in another hospital recovering.

ZHU XIANPING, LIU'S HUSBAND (through translator): I want to find the perpetrators. Why did they beat the family members of someone with HIV?

DUFFY: Liu is not sure exactly what who the men were. But she says at least one was a policeman. Local police and the hospital told us they had never heard of the incident, documented by a local photographer after it took place.

We asked China's health minister about the harassment of people with HIV and their families, who are seeking compensation from hospitals.

GAO QIANG, CHINESE MINISTER OF HEALTH: We need to protect the legitimate rights and interests of people with AIDS. But we also need to protect the rights and interests of the doctors.

DUFFY: He also said that cases involving hospital disputes should be settled by the courts. Liu is suing the hospital.

"I will use everything I have to fight them," she told me. No matter success or failure, I won't have any regrets because I tried."

With her health failing, she says her only hope now is for her husband and for her daughter. Liu is pushing her, too, to study hard. For Liu and family, these past few months have been a difficult crash course in HIV/AIDS.

Tara Duffy, CNN, Xiaha (ph), China.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CLANCY: We're going to continue our look at AIDS and HIV. In Russia, nearly 100 new cases of the disease are reported every day. But many still conceal their illness. They're afraid. They're afraid of the stigma that's attached to it.

Matthew Chance is there, reporting to us that Russia's orphans are suffering from that same stigma.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's a talented survivor of Russia's epidemic. Little Vladimir is free of the AIDS virus, but his mother died a year ago, one of the millions of Russians affected by HIV. His adoptive parents are a vocal critic of how AIDS is managed.

MASHA GESSEN, ADOPTIVE MOTHER: There are positive ones, and the most positive one is that there is an increase funding is just not enough. I mean, there has to be a huge change, not sort of small steps taken in the most painful spots or where the squeakiest wheel is. But it has to be an absolute rethinking of the way Russia addresses this epidemic, because it's just not managing to address it in any kind of an efficient way.

CHANCE: At Special Orphanage House No. 7, Moscow, children like Vladimir, born to HIV-positive mothers, are kept under strict state supervision. Not all are infected with HIV, but authorities say across Russia, there are some 20,000 AIDS orphans like these, most abandoned by sick parents to a life of isolation from the general public. They say it is how most Russians want it.

DR. JULIA VLATSKAYA, PEDIATRICIAN (through translator): Many people are afraid of being infected by HIV-positive people. They are ignorant about what causes the illness and develop an AIDS phobia. I hope that in the future we will be able to integrate these kids into society, so that they won't necessarily have to conceal their illness.

DUFFY: But that's not happening yet. Twenty years since HIV and AIDS first appeared here, critics say the country seems unwilling to confront its crisis.

(on camera): Across Russia, there is a surprising lack of information about HIV/AIDS. And that's led to public ignorance about how the virus is transmitted and who it affects. But add to that this official policy of keeping HIV carriers separate to the rest of the population, and you have the roots of prejudice.

ELTON JOHN, MUSICIAN: What is being smart all about?

CHANCE (voice-over): There is a government-sponsored awareness campaign with soccer star David Beckham, speaking Russian...

DAVID BECKHAM, SOCCER STAR: (SPEAKING RUSSIAN) David Beckham.

CHANCE: ... advising condom use. Other commercials explain how HIV can't be caught by just touching people. All basic stuff, but the message isn't easily getting through.

Sergei (ph) from the Tomsk (ph) region has a typical story. "I had everything," he says. "A good job, great friends, a beautiful girl. We were meant to be getting married. And then I tested positive for HIV and lost everything. I feel terrible, because I live in a small town and now people point at me in the street."

With such a terrible stigma attached, many Russians refuse even to be tested for HIV -- the prospect of discrimination for them and their children, too painful to face.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CLANCY: All right. That brings us to the question of the day that we want to ask. It's World AIDS Day. It's got to be on that, right?

MCEDWARDS: Yes, that's right. We're going to ask you the following question. Is there more hope today for people living with AIDS than there was five years ago? You can email us your thoughts at YWT@CNN.com. We're going to read some of them later on YOUR WORLD TODAY. So answer that question for us, based on your experience or maybe something you've read, something you've learned.

CLANCY: A new revelation challenges Iraqi newspaper accounts of U.S. military operations and the insurgency. The Pentagon says it's investigating whether stories written by soldiers, not reporters, were placed in papers with the help of a U.S. defense contractor.

Barbara Starr following the story for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STARR (voice-over): On the streets of Baghdad, dozens of newspapers, all covering the latest developments. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the new Iraqi media is a success for the coalition.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The country is -- is -- has a free media. And they can -- it's a relief valve. They -- there's a hundred-plus papers.

STARR: But the "Los Angeles Times" now reports that the U.S. military may be deeply involved in influencing the Iraqi press.

MARK MAZZETTI, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": We have documents that reveal the fact that the -- the information operation going on in Iraq involves stories written by U.S. troops, information operations troops, that are translated into Arabic, and then placed in Iraqi media throughout mostly Baghdad for payment, in -- in, sometimes, very -- very large sums of money.

STARR: A U.S. military spokesman would not comment on potential payments -- quote -- "because this is part of our ongoing operations." The military has a contract with the Lincoln Group, a Washington, D.C.-based company. Part of the company's job is to undertake an aggressive information operations campaign that will effectively engage the Iraqi people, including writing Iraqi articles, according to their contract.

But two military officials tell CNN that company employees in Baghdad have offered Iraqi newspapers money to run their articles without identifying they work for the United States government. The company declined to comment on any part of their military work.

One expert says it undermines democracy in Iraq.

TOM ROSENSTIEL, PROJECT FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM: You cannot have democracy without a free press, and you can't have free press if the controlling government is planting government propaganda stories in the newspaper.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCEDWARDS: Well, police believe a Belgian woman was the first Western woman to carry out a suicide bombing in Iraq. Police say Muriel Degauque was pictured here in a Belgian newspaper Thursday and that she threw herself up near an American patrol on November 9. She was the only person killed. The newspaper reports the woman converted to Islam after marrying a Muslim man and traveling to Iraq with her husband. Police say a terrorist network in Belgium had been sending volunteers to Iraq. Fifteen people have been arrested.

CLANCY: We're going to take a short break here, but still to come on YOUR WORLD TODAY...

MCEDWARDS: We're going to tell you about international efforts to halt what some are calling modern-day slavery. We're going to explain when we return. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MCEDWARDS: Welcome back. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

CLANCY: That's right, an hour of world news here on CNN International. Now, millions of victims of human trafficking are living a life that has been likened to modern-day slavery. Traffickers use coercive, deceptive and sometimes abusive techniques to attract their victims.

The European Law Enforcement Organization estimates now that human trafficking is a multibillion dollar a year enterprise. To combat the illegal industry, the United Nations has set up a global program against trafficking. The U.N. says this: "In Asia, girls from villages in Nepal and Bangladesh, the majority of whom are under the age of 18, are sold to brothels in India for $1,000. Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union are the fastest growing regions for human trafficking."

And the United Nations' top agency for children reports that more than 200,000 young people are enslaved by cross-border smuggling in West and Central Africa.

MCEDWARDS: Well, for some perspective now on raising awareness about this issue of human trafficking, we turn to a woman who has been an activist in the fight against trafficking since the mid-1990s.

Actress and U.N. Goodwill Ambassador Julia Ormond joins us now from New York. Thank you so much for being here. Just tell us a little bit about this new U.N. program. I mean, how is this going to even make a dent in this problem?

JULIA ORMOND, U.N. GOODWILL AMBASSADOR: I think it's going to make a dent because it's clear that there's a path of action that's very solution-oriented. And once this protocol is up and is ratified, it means internationally, people can come together and move towards better solutions.

MCEDWARDS: Where is the problem worst, do you think?

ORMOND: Clearly, there's been a great rise of women being trafficked, for instance, from Eastern Europe and from the former Soviet Republic. But there's also huge problems in places like Africa, where there's a lot of child soldiers who are also trafficking victims. And I think those are probably the worst areas.

MCEDWARDS: You know, this is a tough issue as well, because it is -- I mean, we've called it an industry here. And that's what it's called. I mean, it is an industry. It involves moving people with vast networks of support. It's very difficult for authorities to get inside these networks to crack them. People moving across borders, that kind of thing. I mean, with such great challenges, how on earth is any agency going to make a difference here? ORMOND: The approach is very simple. They call it -- they refer to it as the three Ps. It's prevention, protection, and prosecution. Prevention means that you educate people who are vulnerable to trafficking. You let them know that if they go with an agency that promises them work abroad, that promises them to help them with their visas, that they have to be really careful and that potentially they could become a trafficking victim.

You can educate the police on how to identify a trafficked victim. Prosecution means that basically the protocol has come up with a definition of what trafficking is which is a big step forward because it took a lot of work to get to come to an international agreement.

MCEDWARDS: Just to get people to agree on what it is.

ORMOND: Yes, just to agree what exactly it is.

MCEDWARDS: You know, I'm curious for you personally. I mean, we are accustomed now to celebrities taking on certain causes. But for you personally, what was it about this one that made you want to get involved?

ORMOND: I -- it sort of came from one issue to another. But for me it's just -- it's such an egregious human rights violation. It's staggering to me. Human -- I see trafficking as part of a bigger problem which is slavery. And there are 27 million people who are enslaved today. And I also think it's something that we can do something about. It is doable to combat this and to overcome it. And it's not a huge, enormous cost, and I ...

MCEDWARDS: Do you see progress in the 10 years or so you've been involved? Can you point to progress?

ORMOND: Yes, I think there has been progress. I think that, for instance, the figure used to be in the U.S. that it was 50,000 people who were coming into the U.S. and being trafficked into the U.S. each year. That figure has now dropped to about 14,000 -- between 14,000 and 18,000.

MCEDWARDS: OK.

ORMOND: And I think what we now need as a result of the protocol, and as a result of the U.S. ratifying the protocol, what we now need is for them to step up and put the financial resources behind it so that the protocol can be effective.

MCEDWARDS: Understood. Julia Ormond, we have to leave it there. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

ORMOND: Thank you, thank you.

CLANCY: A very good ambassador for a good cause.

MCEDWARDS: Yes, she is. She's well spoken and she knows her stuff. CLANCY: We have to take a short break.

MCEDWARDS: OK. We'll be back. When YOUR WORLD TODAY returns, we are going to open the inbox for you. We'll check some of those email responses we asked you for on our question of the day.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MCEDWARDS: All right, we promised that we would check our inbox for you. And here we go.

CLANCY: That's right. Our question of the day was, the worldwide AIDS pandemic, it asked this. Is there more hope today for people living with AIDS than there was five years ago?

MCEDWARDS: Alain writes from New York: "There is hope if you have the care and the drugs available to you. The sad part is that most of the victims in the world do not have insurance or health care available and they are doomed to an agonizing death."

CLANCY: Samuel writes from Sweden: "Yes, I believe there is a better chance to live with HIV today than five years ago. But I believe that the rich countries can do much more to make it better."

MCEDWARDS: And Bob from California writes: "No, I do not think that people with AIDS are any better off, simply because there are so many other things drawing attention away from their fight."

CLANCY: And this really interesting one came in from Hawaii and Thomas: "As a 44-year-old adult who's lived healthy with HIV since I was 18 years old, I can say honestly, yes, there is hope." Interesting.

MCEDWARDS: Yes. Thank you for writing in. We've got a lot of responses. Appreciate it very much. That's it for YOUR WORLD TODAY.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy.

MCEDWARDS: And I'm Colleen McEdwards. Thanks for watching.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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