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Bill Gates Downplays Uganda Proposal

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Microsoft chairman and global health philanthropist Bill Gates said in a recent interview that it's the stigma against men who have sex with men more than the proposed "kill the gays" bill in Uganda that really has him concerned.

Gates told The Seattle Times he wouldn't "overly focus" on the law when considering the HIV prevention and treatment efforts he funds in Africa.

The Uganda bill, if passed, is widely expected to hinder, if not outright ban, HIV and AIDS prevention organizations working in the country.

The exchange between Gates and the Times appears below.

The Seattle Times: Looking at health efforts in Africa, such as HIV prevention and treatment, are you concerned about the Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill, and have you spoken to anyone there about it?

Gates: The spread of AIDS is a huge problem and obviously we're very involved. I talk in my letter about the great success with this male circumcision effort, and preventative drug trials. There's a tendency to think in the U.S. just because a law says something that it's a big deal. In Africa if you want to talk about how to save lives, it's not just laws that count. There's a stigma no matter what that law says, for sex workers, men having sex with men, that's always been a problem for AIDS. It relates to groups that aren't that visible. AIDS itself is subject to incredible stigma. Open involvement is a helpful thing. I wouldn't overly focus on that. In terms of how many people are dying in Africa, it's not about the law on the books; it's about getting the message out and the new tools.

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