Clinton: Countries Must Spend AIDS Funds Wisely
February 11, 2003
During his keynote address to the 10th Retrovirus and Opportunistic Infections Conference in Boston last night, former President Bill Clinton praised President George W. Bush for pledging to spend $15 billion to fight AIDS in Africa. But he also said steps must be taken to ensure that countries getting the cash are prepared to spend it effectively.
"It's a big step forward," Clinton said of Bush's initiative. But he said Congress must be pushed to approve the money -- and the government must be careful to make sure that the countries getting it have systems in place so that it reaches those who need it.
Clinton said his own foundation is working with 15 Caribbean countries and three in Africa to help them train nurses, set up clinics, purchase and distribute medications and institute prevention efforts. He said that while AIDS has fallen out of the public eye in recent years, the global epidemic threatens to undermine fledgling democracies around the world.
During an earlier press conference, Clinton said he is concerned also about rising HIV rates among young gay men and minority women in the United States. "People in some population groups no longer think AIDS is a problem," he said, referring particularly to young gay men. "They just don't think about it much."
Clinton admitted he made a mistake during his presidency in opposing needle exchange programs that allow addicts to trade in used needles for clean ones. "We have to put science over politics," he said.
Clinton said he hopes most of the US AIDS money is distributed through the UN Global AIDS Fund, but said he is not opposed to private, faith-based organizations getting involved as well.
02.11.03; Michael Lasalandra
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.