Saving Lives

Seven years ago Al Gore came to Chicago to inaugurate a first-of-its-kind health facility called The Core Center. I had spent four years as Board Chairman leading the effort to raise $30 million to build this facility which treats the whole person who suffers from HIV/AIDS by combining education, outpatient care, clinical trials and support services. It has treated thousands of people and conducted critical trials on new therapies. It has also become a model for other programs. One of those offers hope in Africa, a place that all too often seems hopeless.

The same Dr. Mardge Cohen who is Director of the Women's Program at the CORE Center has done something miraculous by establishing a women's HIV clinic in Rwanda, working with a number of Rwandan women's groups and the Ministry of Public Health. What makes this work especially powerful to me, is that the women being provided care are those who were infected by rape during the genocide ten years ago.

I felt we in the U.S. and Europe had turned our backs on Rwanda then, and must not let that happen again.

The program, which has been in operation less than a year, already has over 1,000 women in care and is being managed with the help of the women it serves.

Those women have now issued a new call: they need to provide HIV care for their infected children. I have decided to work with Mardge to meet this need. There are 60,000 HIV infected children in Rwanda and fewer than 500 are being treated. This expanded clinic will begin to fill this void.

I am hosting a meeting of potential donors in Chicago later this month, but I wanted to share the news of the effort. For only $175,000 a year, the clinic can expand. More information is available at www.we-actx.org