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On December 1, 1998, World AIDS Day, President Clinton highlighted the growing global tragedy of children orphaned by AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. At that time, he directed Sandra Thurman, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, to lead a fact-finding mission to the region and to report back to him with recommendations for productive action.

From March 27 through April 5, Director Thurman led a Presidential Mission to Zambia, Uganda, and South Africa. Director Thurman was accompanied by Representatives Jackson-Lee, Kilpatrick, and Lee, and senior staff from the offices of Senators Hatch, Helms, and Kennedy, and Representative Pelosi. Also joining the Mission was a group of community leaders from outside of government including Mayor David Dinkins, Bishop Felton May, and William Harris. [Attachment A: Trip Manifest]

The goals of the trip were to:

  • investigate the extent of the AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa particularly as it relates to children orphaned by AIDS;
  • identify proven and promising interventions; and, 
  • promote leadership both at home and abroad.

I believe that if we could reach to the heart of people, we would always do better in dealing with problems, for our mind always conjures a million excuses.  We cannot restore to [these children] all they have lost, but we can give them a future - a foster family, enough food to eat, medical care, a chance to make the most of their lives by helping them to stay in school.

President Clinton, World AIDS Day 1998

Information for this report was gathered from meetings with African presidents, government ministers, donors, experts, providers, children, parents, and community leaders.  In addition, site visits were made to a wide variety of community-based programs serving children and families affected by AIDS. Both the meetings and the visits provided an important perspective on the problem regarding actions taken, lessons learned, and further progress needed. [Attachment B: Groups Visited]


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Africa Table of Contents

Findings; The Response

The Initiative

Government Agencies

Trip Manifest


Plan of Action Background

Findings; The Challenge

Findings; The Problem

Key Reference Documents

The Goals

Groups Visited