PACIFIC HIV/AIDS CAMPAIGNER BOPP-DUPONT WORKS WITH MANDELA, CLINTON

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (September 29, 2002 - PINA Nius Online)---A leading Pacific Islands HIV/AIDS campaigner, Maire Bopp-Dupont, will breakfast this week with former South African President Nelson Mandela and his wife.

Then she will formally do a presentation alongside Mandela and former American President Bill Clinton at a major HIV/AIDS prevention initiative called "Love Life."

Bopp-Dupont and her parents are special guests in South Africa of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which tackles issues such as HIV/AIDS prevention and care.

They are in Johannesburg for a week to meet with key foundation officials.

Bopp-Dupont, a former journalist, discovered she was HIV-positive just after turning 23 in 1998. She went public with her status the same year during a session on Reporting HIV/AIDS issues during the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) convention in Pape‘ete.

She has traveled extensively since then taking the message of HIV/AIDs awareness and the need for compassion and access to treatment to Pacific audiences.

Her advocacy work has won her international recognition.

But it was while presenting alongside the two former presidents during the 14th international conference on HIV/AIDS in Barcelona in July, that Bopp-Dupont caught the attention of Mandela.

After her presentation at the closing ceremony, she was invited to travel to South Africa and speak at the launch of a youth volunteers network of peer educators, called "Groundbreakers," which forms part of the "Love Life" campaign.

Clinton, who with Mandela co-chairs the International Committee on HIV/AIDS, will also be at the launch.

For Bopp-Dupont, now 28 and founder of the newly formed Pacific Islands AIDS Foundation (PIAF), the visit to South Africa is a great networking and learning opportunity.

She is keen to share responses to the epidemic and especially learn about the Nelson Mandela Foundation and its partnership with "Love Life," which has hit on a success formula for youth education and use of condoms.

"I'm excited about seeing how this country has dealt with the epidemic, and to see the approach which leaders like Mandela are using in their involvement to create change in their communities," she said.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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