US Unveils The Blueprint for An AIDS-Free Generation

With America’s continuing leadership in the fight against the surge of AIDS, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today unveild the blueprint for an AIDS-free generation.

In her remarks in Washington DC, Ms. Clinton says HIV may well be with the world into the future. However, the disease that it causes need not be.

“We can reach a point where virtually no children are born with the virus, and as these children become teenagers and adults, they are at a far lower risk of becoming infected than they are today.” – Ms. Clinton

She says if they do acquire HIV, they have access to treatment that helps prevent them from not only from developing AIDS, but from and passing the virus on to others.

Ryan White became a poster child for HIV after being expelled from school because he was infected.

She cites that earlier this year, at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, she described some of the steps they have taken to achieve an AIDS-free generation.

“And today, I want to step back and make two broad points about this goal.” -Ms. Clinton

First, Ms. Clinton says after so many years of discouraging news, this goal is now possible.

By applying evidence-based strategies in the most effective combinations, the international community has cut the number of new infections dramatically.

She cites that last week, UNAIDS announced that, over the past decade, the rate of new HIV infections has dropped by more than half in 25 low-and-middle-income countries, most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Just listen to these numbers: In Zimbabwe, a 50 percent reduction; in Namibia, a 68 percent reduction; and in Malawi, a 73 percent reduction in the rate of new infections.” – Ms. Clinton

As the world continues to drive down the number of new infections and drive up the number of people on treatment, eventually they will be able to treat more people than become infected every year, Ms. Clinton stressed.

“That will be the tipping point.” -Ms. Clinton

She says they will then get ahead of the pandemic, and an AIDS-free generation will be in their sight.

“And that brings me to the second point: We’ve set the goal.” – Ms. Clinton

She says it’s possible and the world has to deliver. She pointed out that it may sound obvious, but it isn’t, because the history of global health and development is littered with grand plans that never panned out.

“That’s why I am so relentlessly focused on delivering results.” – Ms. Clinton

In July, Ms. Clinton cites that she asked Eric Goosby and his team to produce a plan to show precisely how America will help achieve an AIDS-free generation.

“And the result is the blueprint we are releasing today.” – Ms. Clinton

According to Ms. Clinton, the blueprint lays out five goals and many specific steps they will take to accomplish those goals.

First, they are committing to rapidly scaling up the most effective prevention and treatment interventions.

Ms. Clinton announces that this year, through PEPFAR, the US directly supported nearly 5.1 million people on antiretroviral treatment. That is a 200 percent increase since 2008.

“Now, our second goal is that the blueprint says we have to go where the virus is, targeting the populations at the greatest risk of contracting HIV, including people who inject drugs, sex workers, and those trafficked into prostitution, and men who have sex with men.” – Ms. Clinton

When discrimination, stigma, and other factors drive these groups into the shadows, the epidemic becomes that much harder to fight, she stressed.

The US is supporting country-led plans to expand services for key populations, and bolstering the efforts of civil society groups to reach out to them.

The US government is investing in research to identify the interventions that are most effective for each key population.

As part of US effort to go where the virus is, the US is focusing even more intently on women and girls, because they are still at higher risk than men of acquiring HIV because of gender inequity and violence.

“So we are working to ensure that HIV/AIDS programs recognize the particular needs of women and girls, for example, by integrating these efforts with family planning and reproductive health services.” – Ms. Clinton

Third, the US will promote sustainability, efficiency, and effectiveness.

They have already saved hundreds of millions of dollars by switching to generic drugs in our treatment regimen.

They will continue to ensure that they get the most out of every dollar spent.

“Fourth, we will promote a global effort to achieve an AIDS-free generation, because this must be a shared responsibility. That means our partner countries must step up to the responsibilities of country ownership.” – Ms. Clinton

The US looks to its partner countries to define the services their people need the most, set priorities, and convene funding partners to coordinate.

Donors must meet their funding commitments while also doing more to support country ownership, Ms. Clinton stressed.

To drive all these efforts, the United States will continue to support the Global Fund, it will invest in global health diplomacy, and use US diplomatic leverage to support its goals and bring others to the table, she underlined.

Finally, the United States will support research on innovative technologies for prevention and treatment, such as microbicides and approaches that stave off opportunistic infections like TB.

The US will set clear, measurable benchmarks and monitor their progress toward them so they can focus our funding on what works.

“It is science that has brought us to this point; it is science that will allow us to finish this job.” – Ms. Clinton

So with this blueprint, Ms. Clinton says the US firmly believes it has laid out a plan that every American president and secretary and Congress will want to build on.

Ms. Clinton urges other countries to develop their own blueprints, because to reach and AIDS-free generation, they have to keep moving forward.

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

The US has said the ability to prevent and treat the disease has advanced beyond what many might have reasonably hoped 22 years ago.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

The US efforts 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, the United States has supported more than 400,000 procedures since last December alone.

The 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.

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

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, 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.

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.

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.

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.