Billionaire philanthropist says he has urged U.S. president to speed up research for a HIV vaccine
Bill Gates is not a huge fan of Donald Trump, and at a recent event hosted by his foundation, he made that clear as he revealed details about his interactions with the U.S. president.
The billionaire Microsoft founder drew laughter from the crowd when he said that at two meetings, Trump needed help distinguishing the HIV virus, which can lead to AIDS, from HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer or genital warts.
“Both times, he wanted to know if there was a difference between HIV and HPV so I was able to explain that those are rarely confused with each other,” Gates said, in video footage of the meeting broadcast late Thursday by MSNBC.
Gates, whose foundation works to combat disease and poverty in developing countries, said the question had arisen after he had urged the president to speed up research for a vaccine for HIV. “In both of those two meetings, he asked me if vaccines weren’t a bad thing because he was considering a commission to look into ill-effects of vaccines and somebody—I think it was Robert Kennedy Jr.—was advising him that vaccines were causing bad things. And I said no, that’s a dead end, that would be a bad thing, don’t do that,” Gates told the closed meeting.
A vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV)—one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the United States—already exists. Despite intense research efforts, there is still no vaccine for HIV, which causes AIDS, a disease that killed one million people in 2016.
Gates told the audience he had first bumped into Trump at an event they were both attending before he was elected president, and was thrown off by the real estate magnate’s habit of referring to himself in the third person. “He said: ‘Trump hears that you don’t like what Trump is doing.’ And I thought, ‘Wow, but you’re Trump.’ I didn’t know the third-party form was always expected. ‘Gates says that Gates knows that you’re not doing things right,’” Gates told the audience, prompting laughter.