Former President Clinton Calls Attention to Africa’s AIDS Epidemic, Urges Increased U.S. Contribution to Global Fund
Former President Clinton yesterday warned that the African HIV/AIDS epidemic could "destroy" the continent's "promising future" and recommended that the United States increase its donation to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Baltimore Sun reports. Speaking at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., Clinton noted that the average life expectancy in Africa is "48 years and falling" and that some nations could lose the majority of their workforce because of the large number of people who are sick and dying from AIDS-related causes. According to Clinton, if antiretroviral drugs were more readily accessible to HIV-positive Africans, more people would get tested for HIV and seek treatment, thus extending their lives (Matthews, Baltimore Sun, 10/10).
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Although Clinton "praised" President Bush for the United States' $300 million pledge to the Global Fund, he said that the United States' "fair share" was "about a billion dollars more than that" (Dinan, Washington Times, 10/10). He added that the United States, which is currently seeking "tens of billions" of additional dollars for the military and homeland security, should think of HIV/AIDS spending as "part of our defense," because a rise in HIV infections in other nations could lead to more U.S. infections. He also encouraged tax credits for those researching potential HIV and AIDS vaccines and proposed debt relief for African nations, so that money now being used to repay loans could be spent to fight HIV/AIDS and improve health care and education (Baltimore Sun, 10/10). Clinton said he felt "hope[ful]" because of world leaders' increased attention to Africa and praised Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Secretary of State Colin Powell for recently traveling to Africa to assess the situation firsthand (AP/Nando Times, 10/10). Clinton recently returned from a five-day tour of Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Mozambique and South Africa, where he promoted AIDS awareness and committed to helping some African HIV/AIDS organizations through the William J. Clinton Foundation (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/27).