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The First Lady In Uganda
Hillary Clinton focuses on African nation's problems with illiteracy and AIDS
KAMPALA, Uganda (AllPolitics, March 28) -- Huge crowds turned out in Uganda today to welcome first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and daughter Chelsea, who are in the final stretch of a two-week, six-nation African tour.
The streets were lined with crowds five and six people deep, who came out to greet the first sitting U.S. first lady to visit the impoverished country. Mrs. Clinton focused her day's itinerary on the problems of illiteracy and AIDS in Uganda.
She also announced her husband, President Bill Clinton, intends to "come to Africa during his second term as president." In a speech to Uganda's Parliament, Mrs. Clinton said, "You will have much to show him, based on my own remarkable visit."
The first lady's first stop was to the Seguku Primary School, a successful Ugandan school funded in part by the United States. During a ceremony there, an $8 million education grant was finalized by Uganda's Finance Minister Mayanja Nkangi and officials from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Looking on, Mrs. Clinton said, "There is nothing more important than investing in the education of boys and girls ... The economic and democratic transitions that are taking place now in Africa will succeed only if African children are educated."
Mrs. Clinton went on to inaugurate a new building for a remarkably successful AIDS information center.
With government funds and help from abroad, including from the United States, the information center has developed an aggressive testing and counseling program to battle what is a serious epidemic here.
Estimates of infection rates among Uganda's young people are put as high as 10 percent. Ten years ago, Uganda was thought to have one of the highest rates of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, but today U.S. experts say it's the only country with an infection rate on the decline.
Government studies show the incidence of young pregnant women with AIDS down by 50 percent over the last four years. Experts credit both the Ugandan government's willingness to confront and educate, and the investment in testing.
Mrs. Clinton noted that efforts here are benefitting Americans as well as Ugandans. "We see how you provide the testing all in one day," she said. "That is a message we will take home to the U.S."
CNN's Claire Shipman contributed to this report
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