ONE of the world's most well-respected human rights champions has urged the world to sit up to the global threat of Aids.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu - who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his outstanding leadership in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa - spoke out during a visit to the Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield.
He had just been at an international conference on HIV and Aids in Dublin with Sir Bob Geldof and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.
Archbishop Tutu believes the epidemic should be kept high on the international agenda in the face of the current spotlight on global terrorism.
Archbishop Tutu, 72, said countries must learn from the Aids agony suffered in South Africa and surrounding countries.
And he had a dire warning for the future in Russia and the Baltic states.
He said: "Campaigns to alert people to the danger of Aids in Africa are working and the infection rate among the young has dropped."
But he said years had been wasted and many lives lost because action had not been taken sooner.
"South Africa was at the epicentre of the epidemic and a lot of time was wasted not tackling the problem, when many lives could have been saved," he said.
"I hope that at last we are now solving the problem and have stopped merely fiddling with it. But the predictions are that 20m people will die from Aids in Russia and the Baltic states by the year 2045.
"I would hope the world stops that, by learning from the mistakes with Aids in Africa and taking action sooner."
And he revealed why he thinks the Aids problem in South Africa has not been in the international spotlight like the struggle against apartheid.
"I do not think people like to see photographs of other people dying," he said. "Apartheid was also concentrated in one place - South Africa - but Aids has spread across the whole sub-continent of Africa."
Archbishop Tutu - a grandfather of six - was at the Community of the Resurrection for the first time in 10 years. He first visited in 1964.
He said the college, which trains Anglican priests and had sent missions worldwide, had been a great source of strength and support during the struggle against apartheid in the 1970s and 1980s.
At least three archbishops in South Africa, including himself, had been taught by people from the college.
"The Community Of The Resurrection has produced some remarkable people."
One of those was Dr Rowan Williams, who studied at the college in the 1970s and is now Archbishop of Canterbury.
Fr George Guiver, a superior at the college, said: "We used to have 80 brethren living here, but are now down to 20 who are committed to staying for life. Four more are working overseas.
"We used to run colleges in South Africa, but they were closed down by the apartheid regime."
* Archbishop Desmond Tutu was born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, Transvaal, South Africa.
* He was educated at Johannesburg Bantu High School. He then trained as a high school teacher and graduated from the University of South Africa.
* After three years he began to study theology and was ordained in 1960.
* In 1976 he was appointed Dean of St Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg, the first black to hold that position.
* From 1976 to 1978 he was Bishop of Lesotho. In 1978 he became the first black general secretary of the South African Council of Churches.
* Archbishop Tutu is an honorary doctor of a number of leading Universities in the USA, Britain and Germany.
* He won the Nobel Peace prize in 1984 for his struggle against the South African apartheid regime.