Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Clinton committed to fight HIV-AIDS

Former President Bill Clinton and Microsoft head Bill Gates came together to discuss issues around HIV/Aids at the International Aids Conference in Toronto on Monday.

One is the consummate politician; the other is the ultimate geek. The two Bills, as they are known - and both superstars in their own right — talked about what needs to be done to bring the HIV/AIDS epidemic to its knees.

The theme of the XVI International AIDS conference in Toronto (13-18 August 2006) is Time to Deliver. The focus will be on the promises and progress made by governments and international community to scale-up treatment, care and prevention.

In an hour-long address, Mr. Clinton said politicians and policy-makers need to commit more money to the cause but, more importantly, the dollars need to be spent effectively.

Stephen Lewis, United Nations special envoy for HIV-AIDS in Africa, introduced Mr. Clinton, and spoke of his work in glowing terms.

He said that most international groups in the field work with “supernatural acceleration – from inertia to paralysis” but Mr. Clinton was a man of action, who delivers programs as well as he speaks.

“What has filled my soul with admiration for the Clinton Foundation is their belief that in the battle against the virus, every minute lost is a life lost. That quality of urgently is desperately needed,” Mr. Lewis said.

The ex-president, who will turn 60 Saturday, said with fewer days ahead of him than behind him he realizes how incredible his life has been.

He told the crowd that his own family was poor - their income barely half the U.S. national average - but he had teachers, a community and a health-care system supporting him.

While intelligence, effort and dreams are distributed evenly across the globe, he said, opportunity is not equal.

The crowd gave Clinton a standing ovation as he finished speaking. It also sang Happy Birthday.

Asked later at a packed news briefing if people with HIV-AIDS could count on him to be around for the long haul, Clinton said "even my worst critics never accuse me of being a quitter. I tend to be a sticker.

"I can't conceive of anything that would divert me from this commitment, short of a life-threatening illness or success (in defeating HIV-AIDS)," said Mr. Clinton.

Technorati tag: HIV-AIDS

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