Former President Clinton launches program to expand HIV/AIDS treatment for Kenya’s children
NAIROBI, Kenya – Former President Bill Clinton launched a program Saturday that will nearly double the number of children receiving treatment for HIV infection in Kenya by the end of the year.Some 100,000 children are infected with HIV, but only 1,200 receive treatment. The Clinton Foundation’s Pediatric HIV/AIDS Initiative will provide treatment to an additional 1,000 children in this East African nation.Clinton flew to Rwanda later Saturday and donated a year’s supply of anti-retroviral treatment for 2,500 children infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.The initiative is part of the foundation’s goal to get 10,000 children on anti-retroviral treatment in at least 10 countries by the end of 2005.Clinton has raised funds from private donors led by the Children Investment Fund Foundation, a London-based charity that funds projects to improve the lives of children in poor countries. The U.S.-based investment fund Lone Pine Capital has also made a substantial contribution.Children account for one-sixth of annual HIV/AIDS deaths worldwide, but represent less than 5 percent of current treatment coverage, according to the U.N.’s World Health Organization.The lack of coverage is a result of difficulties associated with pediatric HIV/AIDS care. Diagnosis of the infection in children under 18 months old has been expensive and complex, according to a statement from the Clinton Foundation.Few pediatricians in developing countries have anti-retroviral experience. The cost of pediatric medications has also been prohibitive, four to five times that of most affordable adult formulations, partly because suppliers have not received large orders.Clinton’s visit to Rwanda was intended to highlight the progress made in extending HIV/AIDS treatment across the small central African nation.In the past year alone, Rwanda has tripled the number of people on anti-retroviral treatment to approximately 13,250 – about 20 percent of those who need it – and increased the number of treatment sites from 20 to 57, according to the foundation.The foundation has worked with Rwanda’s government since 2002 to help develop and extend the availability of HIV/AIDS treatment.Rwanda is the final stop on Clinton’s six-nation tour of Africa, aimed at focusing attention on the continent’s AIDS crisis.The Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative has partnerships with more than a dozen countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia.