A massive effort in South Africa is under way to launch clinical HIV-vaccine trials. Meanwhile, Bill Gates announced even more investment to improve life in Africa.
Bill Gates announced his foundation will invest $5 billion in Africa — in what is another Seattle connection to a massive effort to wipe out AIDS.
The Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist delivered on Sunday the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture ahead of Mandela Day in South Africa and the 21st International AIDS Conference starting Monday.
A Seattle-led team of scientists and researchers are working to overcome mistrust in the country as recruiters seek out participants in massive clinical trials for an HIV vaccine. The Seattle Times traveled there to meet the people, westerners and South Africans, who are involved.
Meanwhile, Seattle’s scientists’ frustration over the search of a vaccine for HIV is giving way to hope.
The quest for a vaccineFrom the series:
The Gates Foundation has spent heavily on research and other programs to fight HIV/AIDS and other diseases in Africa. The $5 billion will be invested over the next five years.
Gates warned in his speech that if the world doesn’t come up with more creative ways to make HIV treatment and prevention accessible, “the hard-earned gains made against HIV in sub-Saharan Africa over the last 15 years could actually be reversed” as high birth rates continue.
Gates said the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has already invested more than $9 billion in Africa.
He said Africa is the world’s youngest continent in terms of demographics. “By 2050, 40 percent of the world’s children will live on this continent,” he said.
Still, he said Africa had made notable progress in fighting AIDS, saying that the last time South Africa hosted the global conference 16 years ago, only a few thousand Africans were on HIV drugs. At the time, the drugs were too expensive for many in the region hardest hit by the epidemic.
South Africa now says half of its infected population of 6.8 million people is on treatment.
Gates noted that Mandela fought stigma by announcing publicly the death of his son from AIDS in 2005.
Gates’ speech focused largely on youth and on how to achieve ambitious global development goals endorsed by countries last year.
In the only sharp words of his address, he said: “I get angry when I see that Africa is suffering the worst effects of climate change, although Africans had almost nothing to do with causing it.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.