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BILL: We're big believers in families, particularly mothers, having access to information about family planning, contraception. AIDS today is a lot about making condoms available, teaching people about the disease, getting them to change their behavior. So a lot of what we fund focuses on those things.
TIME: Is malaria one of the diseases you're most concerned about?
BILL: AIDS and malaria are the top two. Malaria deaths have doubled over the past 20 years because of drug resistance, population increase, and it's a great example of the whole global-health vacuum. Inventions that exist [were] not being put to use, the creation of new approaches and new drugs was not being funded very well, and the ultimate solution, which is a vaccine, people had largely given up on.
TIME: How do you get people living in rich societies to care about the poor? How do you get them not to think of malaria as something that happens "over there"?
MELINDA: I think people have to have a sense of what it's like. If it was their neighbor who was dying of that disease, they would care a lot, or if it was their child or their child's friend. When you say that 4 million babies a year die needlessly, most in the first month of life, I think most mothers can understand what that might feel like.
TIME: Do you have a philanthropic role model?
BILL: Both my parents were very involved in giving time to the community and giving money to the community, and they instilled that in me as a very important thing. It was clear as I became successful, they expected the giving to scale with the success [laughs].
MELINDA: I certainly grew up with that background as well. Today what inspires us, though, is seeing the difference sometimes that one individual can make. We follow Bono's work very closely; we're involved with him in a number of projects. Seeing the difference that he has been able to make is just unbelievable.
TIME: Do you listen to U2?
MELINDA: Of course. So do our children.