President Bill Clinton on Friday urged African governments
to encourage people to take voluntary AIDS tests, saying
it was the only way that newly available drugs would have
an impact on the epidemic.
"People living with HIV and AIDS can live a normal life if
they go for testing to know their status. We'll bring the
medicine and it does not matter at what cost but how many
lives will be saved and changed," Clinton said.
AIDS kills 10 people in Malawi per hour, and at least one
million of the small southern African country's total
population of 12 million is
infected, according to official statistics.
Clinton's foundation has been working to make cheaper
anti-retroviral (ARV) AIDS drugs
available in Africa, and he has in the past voiced
support for mandatory HIV/AIDS tests in countries with
high infection rates.
Mandatory testing remains controversial, with some
activists fearing it could expose infected people to
stigma particularly in countries where treatment is not
readily available. Clinton's visit to Malawi was to unveil
new projects undertaken by the Clinton-Hunter Foundation
Development Initiative, which aims to address poverty and
the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Clinton commended Malawi -- one of
Africa's poorest and least developed nations -- for its
"You have set the right priorities. We have come here to
build a partnership with poor people to help them help
themselves. I promise you that together we'll keep the
score," he said.
The CHDI has set aside an initial
$100 million for Malawi and Rwanda.
The first projects under the Clinton-Hunter initiative
will invest in education, health, infrastructure,
agriculture, and entrepreneurial support.
"This is a private sector initiative by two individuals
who are touched by poverty in Malawi and are committed to
assist in alleviating in," Malawi President Bingu wa
Mutharika said at Friday's ceremony.
Tom Hunter, a Scottish philanthropist and retail magnate
has staked $100 million on the initiative. He is ranked by
Forbes Magazine as the 548th richest person in the world.