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Bill Gates, Canada announce millions for global AIDS research 

[PoliticsWatch updated 11:20 a.m., February 20, 2007]

Microsoft Chairman Bill gates speaks with reporters at the base of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill on Tuesday, February 20, 2007. (PoliticsWatch photo).

OTTAWA  — Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates is teaming up with the Canadian government to spend millions to develop an AIDS vaccine.  

The chairman of Microsoft joined Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Parliament Hill to announce a total of $139 million in new funding for the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative. 

The federal government will contribute $111 million while the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will commit an additional $28 million. 

The money will be spent to assist Canadian researchers and institutions to work with international partners on a range of HIV vaccine research projects. 

This includes a proposed manufacturing facility in Canada that will increase the global capacity to produce HIV vaccine candidates for use in clinical trials. 

Harper came under fire from AIDS activists over the summer when he opted not to attend a global AIDS conference in Toronto. 

Reporters asked Gates if he felt like he was being used by the prime minister to gain popularity as a rumoured spring election approaches. 

Gates disagreed, calling the announcement "a great thing for the AIDS cause."

"I'm glad to hear that putting research money into AIDS makes people politically more popular," he quipped. 

The prime minister called the global effort to discover an AIDS vaccine "the greatest scientific challenge of our time." 

"The global HIV/AIDS pandemic is one of the most heart-wrenching health crises the world has ever seen," Harper said. 

"HIV/AIDS is a killer that must be stopped."

Gates said HIV/AIDS drug treatment alone is not enough to combat the pandemic and the "long-term" solution is the creation of a vaccine for HIV. 

He said he remains optimistic that a vaccine can be developed after 10 more years of research.  

Gates said his foundation has decided to work in collaboration with governments around the world because "No single company or government alone can take on this challenge." 

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