16 May, 2021

AIDS A Virus In the Programme

A $100 mn grant goes a long way, but the Microsoft boss' big stakes in Big Pharma also raise a few uneasy questions

AIDS A Virus In the Programme
Avisiting celebrity billionaire doling out charity easily would pass off for a saviour in any Third World nation full of the poor, sick, credulous and corrupt. William H. Gates III mustn't have felt differently. The Microsoft chairman and the world's richest man—at a personal worth of $42 billion (Rs 2,10,000 crore)—got to play the benevolent saint during his four-day visit to India a fortnight ago, during which he committed $100 million for the HIV/AIDS prevention programme. The Gates visit euphoria was shared by all in the AIDS business—from funds-seeking NGOs, activists hopeful of a role in prospective schemes, affected states struggling to stem the spread of the fell disease, to a blundering Union health minister who did an overnight turnaround by hailing a man whom he had damned for 'spreading panic' barely 72 hours ago. And AIDS was back with a bang on the front pages, what with the Gates roadshow coming close on the heels of Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) curious prediction that India alone would have 20-25 million infections by 2010, up from four million today....

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