Obama Administration Bolsters Efforts to Achieve An AIDS-Free Generation


With the world making progress to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, the United States of America today reiterated its commitment in creating an AIDS-free generation.

In her remarks at the 2012 International AIDS Conference, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the ability to prevent and treat the disease has advanced beyond what many might have reasonably hoped 22 years ago.

“Yes, AIDS is still incurable, but it no longer has to be a death sentence.” -Ms. Clinton

She says that for decades, the United States has played a key role in combating the spread of AIDS.

Globally an estimated 34 million people are now living with HIV/AIDS. Of this number, 14 million are women and 1.2 are children under fourteen years of age. UN Photo

Today under President Obama, the US government is building on the legacy to achieve an AIDS-free generation, Ms. Clinton added.

The PEPFAR is shifting out of emergency mode and starting to build sustainable health systems that will help the US government finally win this fight and deliver an AIDS-free generation.

The US governmnet has engaged diplomatically with ministers of finance and health, but also with presidents and prime ministers to listen and learn about their priorities and needs in order to chart the best way forward together.

She notes that the US government has vastly improved its coordination with the Global Fund.

“Where we used to work independently of each other, we now sit down together to decide.” -Ms. Clinton

Since 2009, the United States has more than doubled the number of people who get treatment that keeps them alive.

“We are also reaching far more people with prevention, testing, and counseling.” -Ms. Clinton

With the progress the world is making together, Ms. Clinton says the world can look ahead to a historic goal: creating an AIDS-free generation.

“This is part of President Obama’s call to make fighting global HIV/AIDS at home and abroad a priority for this administration.” -Ms. Clinton

She cites that in July 2010, President Obama launched the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which has reinvigorated the domestic response to the epidemic.

“I am here today to make it absolutely clear: The United States is committed and will remain committed to achieving an AIDS-free generation.” -Ms. Clinton

She stresses the US government will not back off. It will not back down and it will fight for the resources necessary to achieve this historic milestone, Ms. Clinton added.

According to Ms. Clinton, an AIDS-free generation is a time when, first of all, virtually no child anywhere will be born with the virus.

She notes that as children and teenagers become adults, they will be at significantly lower risk of ever becoming infected than they would be today no matter where they are living.

She stresses that every agency in the United States Government involved in this effort is working together to get them on that path to an AIDS-free generation.

The US government is focusing on what they call combination prevention.

US strategy includes condoms, counseling and testing, and places special emphasis on three other interventions: treatment as prevention, voluntary medical male circumcision, and stopping the transmission of HIV from mothers to children, Ms. Clinton pointed out.

Globally, the US has supported its partner countries shifting their investments toward the specific mix of prevention tools that will have the greatest impact for their people.

“We’re also making notable progress on the three pillars of our combination-prevention strategy.” -Ms. Clinton

On treatment as prevention, the United States has added funding for nearly 600,000 more people since September.

Ms. Clinton reports that they are reaching nearly 4.5 million people now and closing in on its national goal of 6 million by the end of next year.

On male circumcision, Ms. Clinton says the United States has supported more than 400,000 procedures since last December alone.

She also announces that PEPFAR will provide an additional $40 million to support South Africa’s plans to provide voluntary medical circumcisions for almost half a million boys and men in the coming year.

“You know and we want the world to know that this procedure reduces the risk of female-to-male transmission by more than 60 percent and for the rest of the man’s life, so the impact can be phenomenal.” -Ms. Clinton

And on mother-to-child transmission, the US is committed to eliminating it by 2015, getting the number to zero.

According to Ms. Clinton, over the years the US government has invested more than $1 billion for this effort.

In the first half of this fiscal year, the US has reached more than 370,000 women globally, and its is on track to hit PEPFAR’s target of reaching an additional 1.5 million women by next year.

In addition, Ms. Clinton also announces that the United States will invest an additional $80 million to fill this gap.

“These funds will support innovative approaches to ensure that HIV-positive pregnant women get the treatment they need to protect themselves, their babies, and their partners.” -Ms. Clinton

Ms. Clinton says let there be no mistake, the United States is accelerating its work on all three of these fronts in the effort to create an AIDS-free generation and look at how all these elements come together to make a historic impact.

“Now Americans are rightly proud of the leading role that our country plays in the fight against HIV/AIDS.” -Ms. Clinton

She adds that the world has learned a great deal through PEPFAR about what works and why.

She emphasizes that PEPFAR will remain at the center of America’s commitment to an AIDS-free generation.

In June 2011, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby pledged an additional $75 million for preventing mother-to-child transmission during the 2011 High Level Meeting on AIDS.

Nearly every minute, a baby is born with HIV. A child dies of AIDS every two minutes and one of every five maternal deaths in Africa is HIV-related.

Reports say pediatric HIV was virtually eliminated, with fewer than 150 new cases per year, in the United States and Europe more than a decade ago.

The world has made incredible progress in closing the gap in developing countries thanks in great part to the commitment of the American people. In fiscal year 2010, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programs focused on preventing mother-to-child-transmission directly supported services that led to more than 114,000 children estimated to have been born free of HIV.

The key elements of the global action plan include:

  • All women, especially pregnant women, have access to quality life-saving HIV prevention and treatment services- for themselves and their children.
  • The rights of women living with HIV are respected and that women, their families and communities are empowered to fully engage in ensuring their own health- especially the health of their children.
  • Adequate resources- human and financial- are available from both national and international sources in a timely and predictable manner while acknowledging that success is a shared responsibility.
  • HIV, maternal health, newborn and child health, and family planning programs work together, deliver quality results and lead to improved health outcomes.
  • Communities, in particular women living with HIV, are enabled and empowered to support women and their families to access the HIV prevention, treatment and care that they need.
  • National and global leaders act in concert to support country driven efforts and are held accountable for delivering results.

    The global action plan includes a detailed timetable for action at community, national, regional and global levels to ensure rapid progress towards elimination of new HIV infections in children by 2015 and keeping HIV positive mothers alive.

  • Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.