November 30, 2012
Clinton Unveils Plan For AIDS-free Generation And AIDS Relief
Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
“The goal of an AIDS-free generation may be ambitious, but it is possible with the knowledge and interventions we have right now. And that is something we´ve never been able to say without qualification before. Imagine what the world will look like when we succeed.”
These were the words of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a little over a year ago. Since then, Clinton has worked towards constructing a plan to, one day, have an AIDS-free generation. On Thursday, Clinton commemorated World AIDS Day by revealing an updated President´s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation, which stipulated the actions the U.S. government will take in terms of working towards achieving this goal.
In the past, Clinton has described “AIDS-free generation” as a time where almost no children are born with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Also, as these children become older, they have reduced risk of becoming infected with the disease. If infected, they should have the opportunity and resources to seek treatment.
“Scientific advances and their successful implementation have brought the world to a tipping point in the fight against AIDS. The United States believes that by making smart investments based on sound science and a shared global responsibility, we can save millions of lives and achieve an AIDS-free generation,” wrote the authors of new PEPFAR on the vision of the program.
PEPFAR is based off of lessons gleaned over the past ten years, as many countries work to increase their HIV care, preventive services, and treatment options. In 2003, PEPFAR was first launched by President George W. Bush to push for progress in HIV treatments and it currently provides anti-retroviral drugs for approximately 5.1 million individuals throughout the world.
According to a recent report by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, deaths due to AIDS have decreased by over 25 percent in the last six years and countries that have had high rates of HIV have seen significant decreases in mortality rates.
The new plan aims to show that the U.S. is committed to reaching this milestone and making an AIDS-free generation become a reality. Some of the goals of the U.S. to target girls and women to elevate gender equality in HIV services as well as reduce discrimination against people who are living with HIV.
"The pace of progress is quickening -- what used to take a decade is now being achieved in 24 months," Michel SidibÃ©, executive director of UNAIDS, told CNN. "We are scaling up faster and smarter than ever before. It is the proof that with political will and follow-through, we can reach our shared goals by 2015."
According to Reuters, the plan also addresses new strategies such as microbicide gels, interventions to limit pregnant women from transmitting the virus to newborns, and voluntary male circumcision.
"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 far lower risk of acquiring HIV than they are today," commented Clinton in a Reuters article.
In PEPFAR, the U.S. states that it will share a large chunk of the responsibility in ensuring that there is an AIDS-free generation in the future. The U.S. already leads in contributions in defending against AIDS, with more than $37 billion already invested and more than $7 billion contributed to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The U.S. also plans to work with other countries along with the private sector, nonprofits, and multilateral institutions.
The new PEPFAR plan could possibly result in higher spending on anti-retroviral drugs, with the donors, recipient countries, and the U.S. most likely pay for the increase.
“This administration has put a huge amount of political capital on this issue from day one. We remain committed. And we realize that we're the major motor on the planet," Eric Goosby, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, told Reuters.
The plan has mostly been received positively.
"What we've needed for a while is an action plan that had caught up to the science of today. The blueprint takes us a step toward that," remarked Chris Collins, who works at the Foundation for AIDS Research as director of public policy, in the Reuters article.