RealNetworks Founder To Donate $1.5M to Access Project To Help Fight HIV/AIDS in RwandaRealNetworks Founder Rob Glaser on Thursday held a luncheon and news conference with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Seattle to officially announce a $1.5 million matching grant to a program that is fighting HIV/AIDS in Rwanda, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports (Johnson, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 4/23). The Glaser Progress Foundation will provide the challenge grant to help fund Columbia University's Center for Global Health and Economic Development Access Project, which assists developing countries in receiving and implementing grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (King, Seattle Times, 4/22). The Access Project is assisting Rwanda in establishing 117 HIV/AIDS testing and counseling centers and providing managerial consulting for the country to begin a widespread treatment program for its 500,000 HIV-positive residents, according to the Wall Street Journal (Wall Street Journal, 4/22). Rwanda earlier this month marked the 10th anniversary of the country's genocide, when Hutu extremists killed more than 800,000 minority Tutsis and Hutu moderates in a three-month period. During the genocide, Hutu militia raped Tutsi women in a deliberate plan to use HIV/AIDS as a weapon. An estimated 500,000 Rwandan women were raped during the 1994 genocide. AVEGA-AGAHOZO, a Rwandan organization also known as Widows of the Genocide, last year polled and tested 1,200 of its 25,000 members and found that 80% had been raped and 66% were HIV-positive (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/6). In order to receive the full grant amount, the Access Project must raise $1 million by the end of the month, according to the Wall Street Journal.
'More Distributed Genocide'
Glaser, who visited Rwanda in February and invited Kagame to visit him in Seattle, called the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Rwanda "a more distributed genocide" because the disease kills about 10,000 people in Africa each day, a number equal to the daily death rate during the height of the fighting in Rwanda 10 years ago (Wall Street Journal, 4/22). Glaser also said that the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa is "another situation where the world is not doing enough." He added, "It's not people picking up machetes, it's happening in a much slower way. But it's equally clear, the opportunity to do something about this horrible disease exists" (Associated Press, 4/22). Speaking on Thursday in Seattle at a luncheon for about 40 local leaders -- including Washington Gov. Gary Locke (D) -- Kagame said, "AIDS is preventable, if we invest. The genocide itself was preventable. That didn't happen, and it cost a lot of lives. There are a lot of parallels" (Cook, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 4/22). Glaser previously donated $1.6 million to the Access Project, which has helped some African nations submit grant applications to receive funding from the Global Fund. Glaser said he is now focusing his philanthropic efforts on Rwanda because the country is "small" so the funding will make a difference; the government is "committed to fighting" the disease; and there is a "moral imperative" to help Rwanda deal with the after-effects of the genocide, according to the Associated Press. Glaser said in an interview this week with the Associated Press, "I look at how much money it took to start our company -- just a few million dollars at the right time. Early money plays a catalytic role. ... I can't think of a single project I'm involved in where the impact and leverage is as great as this one" (Associated Press, 4/22). He added, "We want to bring other investors in. We want this project to scale up" (Wall Street Journal, 4/22).