Bill Gates gives $500 million to worldwide fight against AIDS

Anthony Cuesta | August 11, 2006

Bill & Melinda Gates
SEATTLE — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced Wednesday that it is accelerating its efforts to combat diseases that devastate poor countries by granting $500 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

According to reports from The Seattle Times, the grant gives the Geneva-based Global Fund $100 million a year over the next five years for programs to prevent infection and provide treatment in 132 countries.
"The Global Fund is one of the most important health initiatives in the world today," Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, said in a media statement. "The Fund has an excellent track record, and we need to do everything we can to support its continued success, which will save millions of lives." HIV/AIDS claims more than three million lives a year, while two million people die annually from tuberculosis and more than a million from malaria, according to the World Health Organization.

The Times reports that the Global Fund has provided 544,000 people with HIV/AIDS treatment, 1.4 million people with treatment for tuberculosis and distributed 11 million bed nets to protect children against mosquito-borne malaria.

The Gates Foundation contributed $100 million to the Global Fund in 2001 and $50 million in 2004. That represents a multifaceted approach taken by the world's largest philanthropic organization, funding both treatment and research toward a vaccine. The foundation is also using grants to try to spur other donors into action and increase overall funding.

Dr. Paul Zeitz, executive director of Global AIDS Alliance said in a media statement that the Gates is �showing governments the way forward.�

�If Gates can invest in the Fund, then surely the US, Japan, Germany, the UK and others can follow his lead by upping their contributions,� Zeitz said. �The Fund still needs at least $500 million more before November 2006. We must not allow the fight against disease to falter and stall."

Three weeks ago, the Gates Foundation announced a $287 million cash infusion to speed development of AIDS vaccines and promote collaboration among researchers. After the Gates Foundation gave $1.5 billion in grants to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, including $750 million last year, five European countries contributed an additional $4 billion.

"This is a funding model that works, and the need is great," Melinda Gates told The Times. "We hope all donors – public and private, large and small – will step up their support and make long-term commitments."

The Gates Foundation's pledge to Global Fund comes days before the 16th International AIDS Conference begins in Toronto, a biennial meeting to assess the global situation and set priorities. Bill and Melinda Gates will speak at the opening ceremony of the conference Sunday. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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