Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton of the US has pledged an additional 80 million dollars to support innovative approaches that would ensure HIV-positive pregnant women get the treatment they need to protect themselves and their partners.
She said there was the need for the world to have an AIDS-Free Generation, which required that critical needs of people living with HIV, including women, orphans and vulnerable children, and key populations at high-risk of contracting HIV, were addressed.
US Secretary Clinton made the call when she addressed the opening plenary session of the ongoing 19th World AIDS Conference here in Washington D.C.
“An AIDS-free generation entails that first, no one will be born with the virus; second, that as people get older, they will be at a far lower risk of becoming infected than they are today; and third, that if they do acquire HIV, they will get treatment that keeps them healthy and prevents them from transmitting the virus to others”, she said.
The Conference is on the theme “Ending the Pandemic: Turning the Tide Together” and for the first time in 22 years, the United States of America is hosting the 19th International Conference on AIDS after the Obama administration lifted the travel ban of HIV persons.
According to the Centre for Disease Control, more than one million people are living with the HIV as at 2008 representing seven per cent from the previous estimate of one percent in 2006. Statistics also show that 48,000 persons were infected with the HIV virus in 2009.
More than 23,000 participants and 2,000 journalists from 200 countries are attending the historic conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Centre here in Washington, D.C. of the USA.
The biennial conference, which is the largest regular conference on any health or development issue started on July 22 and will end on 27th and it is being convened by the International AIDS Society in partnership with UNAIDS, the Global Network of Persons Living with HIV and other stakeholders.
For more than 25 years, the International AIDS Conference has played a central role in the global response to AIDS, marking the evolution of the epidemic and serving as a forum for the presentation of scientific advances.
US Secretary of State Clinton said women accounted for 60 percent of those living with HIV in the Sub-Saharan Africa today and noted that the women wanted to protect themselves from HIV and gain access to adequate health care.
She said the Obama Administration would offer an additional 20 million dollars to launch a challenge fund that will support country-led plans to expand services for their key populations and 15 million dollars for implementation research to identify the specific interventions that are most effective for reaching key populations.
Secretary Clinton on November 20011 declared the need to create an AIDS-Free Generation, which has gotten the support of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other agencies.
These agencies are working assiduously to bring everybody on the path to an AIDS-Free Generation by focusing on the key strategies of combination prevention, condoms, counseling and testing, and special emphasis on three core interventions: treatment as prevention, voluntary medical male circumcision, and stopping the transmission of HIV from mothers to children.
She expressed concern on the need to see medical circumcision as another tool in reducing HIV infection and announced that the Obama’s administration is supporting South Africa’s plans to provide voluntary medical male circumcisions for almost half a million boys and men in the coming year with 40 million dollars.
She commended some of the Zimbabwean Members of Parliament who voluntarily offered themselves for circumcision to demonstrate to their constituents how safe and virtually painless the procedure was.
“That's the kind of leadership we welcome. And we are also seeing the development of new tools that would allow people to perform the procedure with less training and equipment than they need today without compromising safety. And when such a device is approved by the World Health Organization, PEPFAR is ready to support it right away”, she disclosed.
She tasked the AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby, to take the lead in developing a blueprint that will outline the goals and objectives for the next phase of our effort to achieve an AIDS-Free Generation by World AIDS Day 2012.
She also emphasized that other countries needed to step up to the plate and play their role by supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria.
“Reaching this goal is a shared responsibility. It begins with what we can all do to help break the chain of mother-to-child transmission. And this takes leadership at every level - from investing in health care workers to removing the registration fees that discourage women from seeking care. And we need community and family leaders from grandmothers to religious leaders to encourage women to get tested and to demand treatment if they need it”, she added.
“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.”
Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the US, who spoke on the topic “Ending the HIV Epidemic: From Scientific Advances to Public Health Implementation”, said there were scientific bases to determine the way to decrease the rate of the pandemic and prevent more infections.
There was an entire group of interventions ready to be implemented needed political, social organizational, community and individual commitment; “we have no excuses that we do not have the scientific evidence and even the tools”
He urged countries to assume responsibility of mobilizing local resources to own their programmes and initiatives, adding, scientific partnerships are also essential to the fulfillment of the agenda”.
He said currently, there were over 30 Anti Retroviral Therapies waiting for the approval from the Food and Drugs administration.
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