Microsoft Chair Bill Gates Gives India $100 Million to Fight AIDS
November 11, 2002
Microsoft Corp. Chair Bill Gates traveled to New Delhi to announce his charitable foundation will spend $100 million over the next decade to slow the spread of AIDS among truckers, soldiers and migrant laborers in the hopes of preventing a devastating epidemic in India. The commitment, the Gates Foundations largest single-country initiative, is intended to underscore the urgency of AIDS in India, where at least 4 million people are already infected with HIV. A recent report from the US National Intelligence Council projects 20 million to 25 million infections in India by 2010, the most of any country.
Dr. Helene Gayle, who heads the Gates Foundations AIDS efforts, said the first grants will be awarded early next year, but full details of the program have yet to be worked out. The foundation has hired the director of the New Delhi office of McKinney & Co., Ashok Alexander, to coordinate the initiative. Grant decisions will be made from the foundations headquarters in Seattle.
The foundation is seeking to reach Indias mobile populations, which have shown infection rates far higher than the general population. It plans to fund prevention efforts that have proven successful elsewhere, including condom distribution, treatment of other STDs, and high-profile public education efforts featuring popular celebrities as well as civic leaders. Gates said the initiative will complement Indias National AIDS Control Program, and the foundation will establish partnerships with government ministries, the national railway and oil companies and other organizations.
At the truck stops, theres a thriving commercial sex industry, Gayle said. Thats clearly a population we would work with. We also know theres same-sex activity in some of these mobile populations, she said. Gayle said the foundation would support policy reforms such as shortening the time truckers wait to cross borders between Indias states, which could reduce opportunities for HIV transmission.
The initiative underscores the Gates Foundations strategy of promoting AIDS prevention while leaving treatment largely to others. While the number of HIV infections in India is large, it represents only about 1 percent of its population, far lower than infection rates in southern Africa.
Wall Street Journal
11.11.2002; David Bank
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.