US Committed To Fighting AIDS Head On
Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
A world where AIDS no longer kills, harms, or threatens is the vision of U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton speaking at a Washington, D.C.-conference on behalf of the United States on Monday, insisting the nation will step up its involvement in the fight against HIV.
“The United States is committed and will remain committed to achieving an AIDS-free generation. We will not back off, we will not back down.” These were the fateful words spoken recently by Clinton at the International AIDS Conference on Monday. The proclamation by Clinton affirms the U.S. effort to battle HIV, complete with $150 million in funding to fight against the epidemic.
Even though there has been new research that there is resistance against AIDS treatments in Africa, Clinton believes it is important to continue the fight; statistics have been striking, with the United Nations reporting that 34 million people around the world are suffering from the disease.
“We will fight for the resources necessary to achieve this historic milestone,” reiterated Clinton in her statements to the 20,000 scientists, policy makers, and sufferers of HIV who attended the conference.
One issue is that many sufferers of the disease aren’t aware that that they have the disease and have an increase risk of spreading it. Clinton urged people and governments to remedy the problem with solutions like voluntary circumcisions and treatments for babies of HIV-positive women.
“Too many women never start treatment,” noted Clinton on the difficulty of avoiding mother-to-child transmission in Med Page Today.
Specifically, the U.S. will be contributing approximately $40 million to a program of male voluntary circumcision in South Africa, $80 million to support HIV-positive pregnant women, $15 million for research on intervention work, $20 million to create a fund to assist expansion of HIV prevention services, and $2 million to increase civil society groups that target import demographics.
Certain groups believe that funding more research is also necessary.
“All donors need to reverse their flat funding for global HIV/AIDS so we can speed up scale-up and reach the one in two people in urgent need of treatment that still do not have access,” Doctors Without Borders told AFP.
Others believe that even though HIV treatment has increased by 20 percent from 2010 to 2011, helping eight million people, the treatment is not enough to produce an HIV-free generation; prevention tools, such as vaccines, are just as necessary.
“It is clear that even if you take the most efficient way of doing this work — the number of people who will eventually need to be on treatment, the amount of money we have is not enough to treat those people,” noted Bill Gates, a philanthropist who has contributed $4 billion of his computer fortune to help alleviate the HIV/AIDS epidemic, in the AFP article.
Likewise, those involved in the conference believe that decreasing stigma and shame on the disease would be beneficial.
“We need more than money. We need more than medicine,” acclaimed singer Elton John, also commented in the AFP article. “What we need now is more love for the living.”
The conference, held every two years, highlighted the importance of an HIV-free generation; ideally, no child would be born with the disease, adults would have a lower risk of contracting HIV, and treatments would be able to mitigate the spread of the illness.
“This is a fight we can win. We have already come so far, too far to stop now,” Clinton remarked in her speech.
Even with the mention of funding and possible solutions, there is no guarantee on how long it will take to reach an HIV-free generation.
“We want to get to the end of AIDS,” announced the top U.S. HIV researcher, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, in a USA Today article that highlighted the conference. “No promises, no dates, but we know it can happen.”