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National News

Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Bill Gates Fight AIDS

March 8, 2002

Former South African President Nelson Mandela joined former President Carter and Bill Gates Sr., the father of Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, Thursday in the battle against Africa's AIDS epidemic. At a function staged at the Zola clinic in Soweto, South Africa, the three men cradled tiny HIV-positive babies, and called for treatment to be made available to people with AIDS and for an end the stigmatization of those with the disease.

Mandela urged the South African government to make AIDS drugs widely available to lessen the chances of HIV-positive mothers passing the virus on to their babies. "It is necessary here to be broad-minded, not to feel that your ego has been touched, if you listen to what the public is saying," Mandela noted. He conceded that there was a risk that the drugs were toxic, but said people should have the freedom to take them. Carter also urged that everyone be given access to treatment. "My personal belief is that [AIDS drugs] are effective and safe," he said. A young HIV-positive mother said, "All we are asking is to have treatment so that we can bring up our children."

The Gates Foundation, funded by Bill Gates and overseen by his father, has funded research on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV at the Soweto clinic. The head of the clinic's AIDS program, James McIntyre, said 13,000 women were offered counseling on the dangers of HIV last year and 90 percent of them agreed to be tested for the virus. About 3,000 women were given AIDS drugs last year, a figure expected to reach 8,000 this year. Mandela asked those with AIDS not to give up hope, and urged communities to accept those with the disease. "The stigma is sometimes more dangerous than the terminal disease itself," he said.


Back to other CDC news for March 8, 2002

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Adapted from:
Associated Press
03.07.02; Mike Cohen


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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