Kenyan President Kibaki, President Bush Discuss AIDS Epidemic
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on Monday met with President Bush to discuss AIDS and other issues as part of Kibaki's two-day visit to the United States, Kenya's Daily Nation reports (Kelly, Daily Nation, 10/6). An estimated 700 Kenyans die each day from AIDS-related causes. Bush on Monday honored Kibaki with a state dinner, the fourth such event in Bush's presidency and the first for an African leader, according to the Associated Press (Gedda, Associated Press, 10/6). Speaking to reporters on Monday, Bush said, "President Kibaki and I share a deep commitment to waging a broad, effective effort against the AIDS virus. ... I fully support the president's declaration of total war ... on this disaese, and I'm proud to stand with him." Bush added that the United States is Kenya's largest bilateral donor in the fight against AIDS and that U.S. support would increase under the five-year, $15 billion global AIDS initiative (White House release, 10/6). Kibaki said that he was "encouraged by a keen interest and concern that President Bush has shown on issues affecting Kenya and Africa," adding that "the $15 billion U.S. HIV/AIDS program bears testimony to this particular commitment" (Corey, Washington File, 10/6).
Human Rights Watch Letter
Human Rights Watch on Monday sent a letter to Bush urging him to discuss during his meeting with Kibaki and during ongoing meetings with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni how violence and discrimination against women contribute to the spread of HIV in Africa, according to an HRW release. The letter urges Bush to discuss the impact that inequity in women's property rights have had on Kenya's AIDS epidemic. The letter also calls on Bush to ask Kibaki to enact legislation that would prohibit gender-based discrimination and promote women's equal rights to property; provide training for government officials and traditional leaders on women's property rights; and ensure that U.S. aid, including HIV/AIDS assistance, is used to improve women's property rights. In addition, the letter urges Bush to discuss the impact of domestic violence on women's vulnerability to HIV in Uganda, which has no laws against spousal rape or domestic violence. The letter also urges Bush to dedicate a larger portion of the five-year, $15 billion global AIDS initiative to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Information in the letter was based on two HRW reports that were issued earlier this year, titled "Just Die Quietly: Domestic Violence and Women's Vulnerability to HIV in Uganda" and "Double Standards: Women's Property Rights Abuses in Kenya." The HRW letter was accompanied by two letters from women's groups in Kenya and Uganda asking for U.S. assistance in the fight against AIDS (HRW release, 10/6).