HHS Secretary Thompson, U.S. Delegation Speak With HIV-Positive Clinic Patients in Rwanda
December 3, 2003
Secretary Tommy Thompson on Tuesday on the second leg of his four-country trip to Africa visited Rwanda, where at least 13% of the country's 8.2 million people are HIV-positive, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports (Ngowi, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 12/3). Thompson and a U.S. delegation of lawmakers, business people and religious groups are in Africa to examine projects aimed at fighting HIV/AIDS. The U.S. delegation includes Randall Tobias, head of the new State Department Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, and Richard Holbrooke, president of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The 80-person delegation was also scheduled to include UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot, Global Fund Executive Director Richard Feachem, CDC Director Julie Gerberding, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni and NIAID Director Anthony Fauci (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/2). Speaking to HIV/AIDS patients at a health center in Kigali, Thompson said, "We will do everything in our power ... to protect you and find a therapy for everyone here" (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 12/3). Holbrooke said, "In my view, AIDS is the greatest social issue of our time." Holbrooke -- who along with the delegation visited the site of a new medical clinic and the Gisozi Genocide Memorial, commemorating the time during which ethnic Hutus ordered a "systematic ... genocide" of 250,000 Tutsis -- said that there is "often a direct relationship between HIV and human conflict," according to the San Francisco Chronicle. He added, "AIDS follows wars ... because the health care system collapses and soldiers carry the virus and they visit prostitutes and prostitutes follow the soldiers" (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/3). Innocent Nyaruhirira, the Rwandan minister of state in charge of HIV/AIDS, said that the government plans to ask the United States for more help to fight the epidemic, according to the AP/Sun (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 12/3).
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On to Uganda
Thompson and the delegation on Thursday will travel to Uganda, evaluating the resources the country needs to continue fighting HIV/AIDS, Xinhua News Agency reports. Thompson will examine U.S.-supported HIV/AIDS programs in addition to private-sector efforts to address the AIDS crisis. Thompson is also expected to discuss the Global Fund and President Bush's $15 billion, five-year global AIDS initiative, Xinhua News Agency reports (Xinhua News Agency, 12/3).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.