Clinton: World AIDS Fight May Lower Drug Costs

ByABC News via logo

Feb. 19, 2006 — -- Former President Clinton has made one of his post-presidency missions the fight against world AIDS, and suggests Americans likely may benefit from the fight by a reduction in the cost of AIDS-fighting drugs.

Clinton made his comments exclusively to ABC News' "Good Morning America Weekend Edition" while in India, where huge medical strides in the fight against the AIDS epidemic are being made.

He said India and other countries are finding a way to provide lower-cost medical care to AIDS patients that could drive down prices in the United States as well.

"I visited a factory as modern as anywhere on Earth yesterday, producing millions and millions of medications for AIDS and other diseases here in India," Clinton said. "We are now treating people all across the world for under $140 per person a year and we are still paying $10,000 a year in the United States. At least, we should be paying less than that."

Today, the Clinton Foundation announced a program to train Indian nurses in AIDS care.

"I think the Indians, with their science and technology, first have the ability to help people solve the AIDS problem and other epidemics around the world," Clinton said. "It will hopefully provide us some good old-fashioned competition. And eventually Americans will get the benefit of it, while still maintaining a strong base in our own country of science and technology."

Clinton also weighed in on other issues, including Vice President Dick Cheney's accidental shooting of a hunting companion, Texas attorney Harry Whittington, on a quail hunt. He found some fault with the way the accident was disclosed to the public, but said he understands accidents happen.

"I come from a culture from where we quail hunt, so I know something about it," Clinton said. "It's not an enterprise free of danger, for all kinds of obvious reasons. … We have people who are quite often, who are shot in quail incidents, so I didn't feel the need to get in the pile-on.

"I think the White House should have said something sooner," he added, "but I think it's gotten a little more life than it would have because the administration has enormous penchant for secrecy, for not telling anybody anything about anything."

On another subject, Clinton said that the nuclear weapons possessed by Pakistan and India "should be a real concern for America," because al Qaeda is hiding in Pakistan and the United States needs the nations cooperating to win the war on terror.

"We know that if India and Pakistan were cooperating, if they could resolve their differences over Kashmir -- which we hope they can -- that we would have a unit in South Asia of elected governments who could have dramatic improvements in economic and social welfare and reduce a lot of the security problems," Clinton said.

Clinton also said that he didn't mean to stir up the crowd at Coretta Scott King's funeral when he gave a speech, but someone spontaneously shouted out "future president" in reference to his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

"It was touching for me to see their support for Hillary," he said. "I like that, but it was not intended."

Clinton became interested in the fight against AIDS when he lost a good friend to the disease 20 years ago. After he left office, he said, the AIDS and HIV epidemic exploded in Africa and other parts of the world, and he decided to team up with former South African President Nelson Mandela to combat the disease.

India is making huge strides in AIDS research, but there is still a stigma attached to the sexually transmitted disease in the largely conservative society. Clinton said it is imperative for all people to stop viewing AIDS in terms of morality, but rather as a health problem.

"The prime minister of the country and the health minister and the director of the program and a lot of cultural figures are getting people involved in testing and in coming forward," Clinton said.

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