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Matt Damon Pushes for African AIDS Funding

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Matt Damon – whose first child with wife Luciana is due to arrive soon – has returned from a 6-day trip to Africa with a renewed passion for fighting AIDS and praise for President Bush’s relief program.

“The work that’s being done and the people that I met who are on the front lines there, I just came away feeling like we’re going to beat this,” the Bourne Identity star, who came home on April 29, tells the Associated Press.

Damon, 35, spent most of his time there in Zambia, which had an HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 16.5 percent in 2003, according to the CIA’s World Factbook. The U.S. prevalence rate was 0.6 percent in 2003.

Among the many sites Damon visited was a clinic sponsored by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an independent charity.

“You walk into these clinics; you’re surrounded by people who are alive and well because of the president’s plan and because of this money,” he said.

The DATA Foundation, a nonprofit Africa advocacy group, and the ONE Campaign, a coalition of groups working to fight AIDS and poverty, organized Damon’s journey.