FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT CLINTON TO VISIT PNG

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, December 1) – Former U.S. president Bill Clinton arrives in Port Moresby this Sunday to promote awareness on HIV/AIDS.

Clinton Foundation representative in PNG Zachary Katz said President Clinton will be visiting PNG as a private citizen representing the William J. Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative.

President Clinton will be visiting Port Moresby to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and the rapid scaling up of care and treatment services for people living with HIV and AIDS. He would be touring a number of Asian countries for similar purposes.

President Clinton’s visit follows a cordial meeting between him and Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare in New York in September, during the second annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.

Sir Michael was warmly received by Clinton and others at the meeting, including former vice-president Al Gore, corporate tycoons Rupert Murdoch and Sir Richard Branson, Bill Gates, for US secretary of State Colin Powell and British prime minister Tony Blair.

It was during that meeting that the prime minister briefed Clinton about the HIV/AIDS situation in PNG, and Clinton confirmed his visit to PNG.

Sir Michael yesterday welcomed Clinton’s visit and the message he will be bringing.

He also appealed to each man, woman and children to be part of the major effort to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Figures released by the National AIDS Council showed that at the end of March 2006, a total of 15,586 cases were detected in PNG. But experts believe between 70,000 to 120,000 people could be infected.

The William J. Clinton Foundation was established after President Clinton left office as US president in 2001.

The William J Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS initiative (CHAI) works to bring the necessary high quality care and treatment to people regardless of where they live.

CHAI works with national governments to strengthen public health systems in many worlds’ poorest areas. This thrust of the initiative is to bring about long terms benefits beyond HIV/AIDS care and treatment alone.

Mr Katz said CHAI-PNG country team had been on ground since July of 2006.

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