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Richard Gere: fighting aids more important than Tibet issue

July 14, 2004

Richard Gere
BANGKOK — Hollywood movie star Richard Gere said Tuesday the AIDS fight was more important to him than the Tibet issue, adding he had wept for the plight of infected youths since arriving here for a global summit.

"I found myself in the last few days getting very teary about this and in the middle of the night I started crying and it all came back to me," Gere told reporters at the 15th International AIDS Conference which began Sunday.

"This has been a very emotional time for me, it has kind of snuck up on me," said Gere, adding that many of his friends in the entertainment world had been infected by the deadly virus.

The Buddhist movie star said that while he remained firmly committed to his much publicised campaign for an independent Tibet and his support for its exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, AIDS was the biggest single threat to the planet.

"The most important (issue) is this one, to this planet, to this time and place is AIDS," he said.

Gere made the comments during a discussion on AIDS awareness and the media, taking a swipe at tough media censorship on condom awareness under the Bush administration.

"We may well have hopefully another administration in about four months in the US and along with that some sanity on this subject," Gere said.

The actor is one of a handful of celebrities including US soul singer Dionne Warwick, British actor Rupert Everett, Australian Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins and Hong Kong singer Coco Lee who have joined about 17,000 delegates at the AIDS summit, which is entitled "Access for All".

Some 38 million people are currently living with HIV and the UN has warned of an explosion in cases in Asia and Eastern Europe unless immediate action is taken. – Sapa-AFP

Related links stories
Protests at AIDS forum amid row over cash, cheap drugs [14/07/2004]




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