July 24, 2010

U.S. Government Pledge to Fight Against AIDS

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have pledged U.S. support for the global fight against AIDS.

The two said during an international conference dedicated to the disease on Friday that they were committed to building upon progress and taking the lead in ensuring a sustainable and effective response.

"Ending this pandemic won't be easy, and it won't happen overnight," Obama told delegates gathered in the Austrian capital of Vienna. "But thanks to you, we've come a long way "” and the United States is committed to continuing that progress."

According to the Associated Press (AP), "Clinton said the United States believes access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care should be a universal and shared responsibility and said health was a human right."

"As we push to expand access to these resources, the United States will continue to work with our partner countries and with civil society to help empower citizens to lead the charge in their own countries," she said.

The next international AIDS conference will be hosted in Washington in July 2012.

Over 19,000 delegates heard promising news about a vaginal gel spiked with the AIDS drug tenofir that has proved capable of blocking the virus.

The World Health Organization announced that a record 5.2 million people were receiving lifesaving AIDS drugs last year, up from 4 million in 2008.

However, the gathering was overshadowed by the woes about replenishing the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

In October, donors will meet to decide on the fund's financing level for the next three years during concerns that a desired $20 billion in pledges will not be reached.

A recent U.N. report showed that the U.S. was the largest donor of international AIDS assistance in 2009, accounting for over 58 percent of disbursements by governments.

Conference chief Julio Montaner of the International AIDS Society said the U.S. has what it takes to make a difference.

"The U.S. has the power to literally change the course of the epidemic," Montaner said.

Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu of South Africa said that HIV prevention, treatment, care and support are a human rights priority.

"To deny treatment is to deny life itself," Tutu said in a video address.

Activists have slammed the rich G-8 countries for failing to deliver on a commitment to ensure that everyone infected with HIV and AIDS gets treatment by 2010.

The U.N.'s top investigator on torture and punishment warned delegates that overcrowded prisons are breeding grounds for AIDS.

Manfred Nowak said that inmates are often held in inhumane conditions in which the virus is spread through the use of non-sterile drug injection equipment, sexual contacts, tattooing and sharing of razors.


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