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Gates Foundation Gives $2 Million to Fight AIDS in Kenya - 2002-03-11


The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given $2 million to fight HIV/AIDS in Kenya. More than 700 Kenyans are infected with the killer virus every day.

Former President Jimmy Carter, accompanied by William Gates, Senior, the father of Microsoft executive Bill Gates, ended a week-long tour of Africa in Nairobi's Kibera slums.

Kibera is one of the poorest parts of the capital. News reports say it is one of the largest shantytowns in Africa.

Kibera is also the home of many of Nairobi's prostitutes, the majority of whom test positive for the HIV virus, which causes AIDS.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is giving $2 million to support AIDS-prevention in communities like Kibera.

Some of the money will go to the Kenya Voluntary Women's Rehabilitation Center to provide career training for young women to find work outside the country's thriving sex industry. The center will also give counseling and support to prostitutes and their clients.

Almost half the grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be spent on training university students in HIV prevention methods. They will pass the information on via local community-based education programs in Kenya.

William Gates, Senior says people must learn to discuss AIDS if they are going to defeat it.

"So much of what we talk about when we talk about this subject are matters which our cultures have taught us not to discuss. And that cultural inhibition is nothing that goes away because the president says so. The ability to reverse those cultural inhibitions, the ability to have people talk about and understand causation, avoidance, is something which has to occur at the community level. The indispensability of full and frank community discussion is going to be a necessity for us to beat this plague which is upon us," William Gates said.

Kenya has 2.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS and more than one million AIDS orphans.

Yet people still find it difficult to talk about sex or safe sex.

A recent advertising campaign in Kenya for Trust Condoms provoked a storm of complaints because it showed a young man rolling a condom over a bottle of water to stop it leaking. The ad's critics argue that it is too explicit and that telling young people about condoms will encourage them to have sex.

Surveys show that the majority of Kenyans know that the HIV virus is transmitted through unprotected sex but many of them still do not use condoms.

A common complaint from Kenyan young people is that it is like eating a sweet with the wrapper on.

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