Gates Foundation Opens Beijing Office To Increase HIV Prevention Efforts in China
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has opened an office in Beijing to increase HIV prevention efforts in China and control the spread of the virus in the country, the Seattle Times reports. The Gates Foundation and the Chinese government still are working out the terms of the partnership and discussing a grant to the country. Ray Yip, a former U.S. CDC director in China and a senior adviser to UNICEF China, will run the program. According to the Times, the Gates Foundation also is seeking China's cooperation to address other diseases, including malaria and tuberculosis.
It is unclear how China will accept aid from outside groups "at a time when foundations and other charitable organizations are seen by authorities as a potential threat, fomenting grass-roots democracy," the Times reports. The Gates Foundation is providing few details about the program in China and is keeping a "low profile" in the country, according to the Times. Its Beijing office does not have a sign on the door. Bill Gates last month came to China seeking to improve relations between the government and Microsoft. "Less noticed" was Gates' visit to a Beijing health clinic to learn about its HIV prevention efforts, the Times reports. Jenny Sorensen, a spokesperson for the Gates Foundation, said the organization has been "exploring opportunities to help support the response to HIV/AIDS in China," adding that final decisions regarding the program's funding have not been made.
According to the Times, an estimated 650,000 people in China are HIV-positive. The United Nations in 2005 said that if prevention efforts are not taken, the country could have 10 million HIV-positive people by 2010. China recently said it could limit the number of HIV cases to 1.5 million by 2010, the Times reports (Heim, Seattle Times, 5/20).