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Monday, 11 November, 2002, 14:27 GMT
Gates on India Aids mission
Bill Gates
Mr Gates pledged $100m for Aids campaign
Bill Gates, the head of the US computer giant Microsoft, has arrived in India on a four-day visit.

He has announced that his charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is making a $100m grant to tackle the issue of Aids in India.

It is completely inaccurate to claim India will have over 25 million people living with HIV/Aids by 2010

Shatrugan Sinha, Indian Health Minister

The announcement, however, has been overshadowed by a row caused by a US report which estimates that the number of people in India with HIV will multiply more than five times in the next decade.

At a news conference on Monday Bill Gates said: "HIV-Aids is at a relatively low level in India and experience shows that countries that act at an early stage can prevent the disease from becoming widespread."

But Mr Gates and the US Ambassador in New Delhi, Robert Blackwill, were accused by the Indian Health Minister of "spreading panic" among the general public by talking about dramatic increases in HIV-Aids cases.

Targeting the vulnerable

The Gates Foundation money will be targeted at mobile groups such as truck drivers, migrants and labourers who are seen as particularly vulnerable to HIV infection.

Bill Gates said that the money would also be used to tackle the social stigma attached to Aids in India.

But on Friday Indian Health Minister Shatrugan Sinha described the US projection that the number of people living with HIV-Aids could rise from the current level of 4 million people to 25 million by 2010 as "completely inaccurate".

The Health Minister later said: "I don't think anyone should contribute to spreading panic among the general public."

An aids patient in India
Medical facilities are meagre for many victims
Nevertheless, Mr Sinha will chair the board that administers the Gates Foundation's programme.

And after a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Mr Gates said " Mr Vajpayee appreciated the foundation's work and was very supportive of our activities."

New investments

The world's richest man is being treated like a visiting head of state during his visit to India.

In addition to his meeting with the Prime Minister, Bill Gates is due to meet with the President of India, Abdul Kalam.

He will also meet leading figures from India's burgeoning information technology industry when he visits the country's centres of IT in Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Mr Gates is expected to make some announcements about new investments in India by his company, Microsoft, but none has been confirmed.


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09 Nov 02 | South Asia
07 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
01 Dec 01 | South Asia
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30 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
30 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
15 Mar 01 | Africa
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