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    Kidnapped AIDS Campaigner Released

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    The teenage activist was snatched from a pickup truck as she was waiting outside her office.

    HIV
    © East News / AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
    MOSCOW, January 7 (Sputnik) – A kidnapped AIDS activist from Honduras who had been taken from a parked pickup truck in the city of San Pedro Sula has been found after eight hours of captivity, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

    Law enforcement told the news organization that the kidnappers of Keren Dunaway Gonzalez "had asked for ransom but had released her after her mother assured them the family had no money." The teenager was found in an abandoned car eight hours after being taken.

    According to the AFP, the 18-year-old was kidnapped by three gunmen as she sat with her mother in a pickup outside the offices of the magazine which she set up for HIV-positive children. Her mother, who was released by the kidnappers a few blocks away, made a televised appeal following the kidnapping for Gonzalez to be freed: "I beg those who took her not to harm her and to return her to me quickly, as she has to take medication daily; if she doesn't, she could get sick and die," the BBC reported.

    The campaigner became well-known as a result of a speech she made as a 12-year-old to the 2008 International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, where she appealed for help and for the acceptance of children living with the disease. “The boys and girls who live with HIV are here and we are growing up with many goals," she said during the event’s opening speech, as quoted by the AP. "But achieving these goals will only be possible when we receive the attention we need, when we are guaranteed the medicines that we need, when we are accepted in schools."

    Gonzalez runs an NGO called Llaves, which campaigns for the civic rights and acceptance of people living with HIV/AIDS in Honduras. According to the WHO, almost 60 percent of all cases of AIDS in Central America are reported in Honduras, despite the country accounting for only 17 percent of the region’s population.

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    HIV, AIDS, kidnapping, NGO, Honduras
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