Clinton Says ‘AIDS-Free Generation’ Within Reach

Posted November 8th, 2011 at 3:30 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says advances in treatment and prevention have put the goal of an “AIDS-free generation” within reach worldwide.

Speaking at the U.S. National Institutes of Health Tuesday, Clinton said U.S.-led efforts have helped set the stage to change the course of the pandemic.

She described an AIDS-free generation as one in which virtually no children are born with the virus. She said they would also face far lower risk of being infected as teenagers and adults, and if they did acquire HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, they would have access to treatment.

Clinton said to achieve the goal, the United States, other donors, and countries hard-hit by HIV/AIDS must step up the use of what is called combination prevention.

She said that strategy focuses on three interventions: ending mother to child transmission, expanding voluntary medical male circumcision to reduce female-to-male transmission and increasing anti-retroviral drug treatment for infected people.

She announced the United States is committing another $60 million to scale up the three-pronged effort in sub-Saharan Africa and challenged other nations to contribute as well.

She said the world would not have come this far in the struggle without the United States' lead funding role, and that in her words, “it won't defeat AIDS without us.”

Clinton's comments mixed hope about reaching a turning point against HIV/AIDS with apprehension about possible cuts in U.S. AIDS and related funding.

The U.S. foreign assistance program, which includes PEPFAR – the multi-billion dollar anti-HIV undertaking begun by the Bush administration, is considered a likely target for cuts as the Congress looks for ways to curb the massive U.S. budget deficit.

Clinton said anti-retroviral drugs provided through PEPFAR are keeping millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa infected with HIV/AIDS alive, and other aspects of the program have prevented millions of new infections.