Giuliani said increasing trade with African nations will help those governments solve public health problems on their own.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) – When faced with several questions about AIDS in Africa during a recent campaign stop in South Carolina, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani offered few specifics on public health issues but said that increasing U.S. trade with Africa will help "the problems, the issues, everything" facing the continent.
After a brief speech to supporters at his South Carolina state headquarters last week, Giuliani was asked about AIDS, antiretroviral drugs and health care workers in Africa by three medical students in the audience.
Giuliani was questioned on whether he would renew PEPFAR, or the President's Plan for Emergency AIDS Relief, which is due to expire in 2008.
The $15 billion, five-year U.S.-led initiative provides drugs to combat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in developing nations, but has been criticized because of its stipulation that at least one third of the money spent on disease prevention should go to abstinence-until-marriage programs.
"I would continue that and if necessary expand it and am very open to it," Giuliani said. "I talked to the president about it a long time back. That is something I would very much support."
Asked when he would develop a global AIDS platform, Giuliani said: "Over the course of the campaign. You sort of develop it one piece at a time. But its something we are very committed to."
Giuliani was also asked if he would provide money to train more health care workers in Africa.
He replied that "my plan would be to continue what the president has done" and then said that negotiating free trade agreements with African governments will help countries build their economies and solve public health crises.
Giuliani cited the free trade pact with Peru, recently passed by the House of Representatives, as a possible model.
"I would try to increase dramatically trade with Africa," Giuliani said. "Because what we're really trying to do is help Africa get to the point where the African countries can take care of this problem themselves."
"There's nothing better than to help to make people self-sufficient, and aid helps them get through crisis, but then trade helps them to self-sufficiency."
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby