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NEW YORK The United Nations is a special place, both because of the good works the U.N. does and the international flavor that accompanies events that take place there. The reception for the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights was the kickoff of the UN's special session on HIV and AIDS, a week's worth of events meant to focus international attention on the escalating needs generated by the pandemic, particularly in African nations.
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the M.A.C. AIDS Fund sponsored the event, which presented an award to Dr. Peter Piot, the executive director of UNAIDS, the UN's AIDS initiative. A large crowd of foreign dignitaries mingled in the Delegates' Dining Room overlooking the East River. Heavy security accompanies UN events, and this night was no exception--guests had to go through three check points.
Restaurant Associates is the venue's exclusive caterer, and the night's food consisted of a nice selection of tasty hors d'oeuvres passed throughout the cocktail hour. Several bars in the long room handled the large crowd, and a small stage displayed a floral arrangement and the beautiful crystal award, which was shown on black velvet.
The short program was delayed until the arrival of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his wife, Nane, who were both saluted for their efforts in raising AIDS awareness. M.A.C. Cosmetics president John Demsey and Kaiser Foundation president and CEO Drew Altman spoke of their commitment to fighting AIDS and the hopes that other companies and organizations will follow suit.