This week at the State Department Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton unveiled a Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-Free Generation to commemorate and highlight this year’s World AIDS Day on December 1. The blueprint, from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), highlights the United States’ commitment to working towards an AIDS-free generation through science and research, working towards improving human rights for people who often feel the stigma of HIV most acutely (eg, sex workers), and making sure the United States’ approach is sustainable and effective.
Before her remarks, Secretary Clinton was introduced by Florence Ngobeni-Allen, an ambassador for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. She relayed the story about her first child and husband who succumbed to AIDS in South Africa when medical interventions were less available. Ngobeni-Allen is a success story because she has since delivered two HIV negative sons with her current husband who is also HIV negative.
“Losing a child to AIDS is the worst thing a mother can go through,” she said. “I am alive today because of the American people,” she continued, speaking of the groundbreaking work of PEPFAR.
At the outset of her remarks Secretary Clinton said PEPFAR represents the United States’ best values in practice. She also acknowledged President George W. Bush, under whom PEPFAR was passed in 2003, and President Obama’s continuing commitment to PEPFAR.
The five key tenets of PEPFAR’s Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-Free Generation are:
- Scaling Up Interventions: Secretary Clinton mentioned that because of PEPFAR 5.1 million people were able to benefit from antiretroviral treatment, a 200% increase since 2008.
- Targeting the Populations at the Greatest Risk of HIV: Secretary Clinton, echoed by Michele Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director, believe that in order to fight HIV/AIDS some of the most vulnerable populations have to be embraced including sex workers and drug users. “When discrimination drives these groups into the shadows the epidemic becomes that much harder to fight,” said Clinton.
- Focusing on Women and Girls: As one two of the most vulnerable populations to HIV/AIDS Secretary Clinton said there would be a greater focus on women and girls including sharing HIV/AIDS education with family planning and sexual health services.
- Promoting a Global Effort: Secretary Clinton called on partner countries to step up their commitments and to provide services their people need. She also reiterated that the United States will continue to support the Global Fund and invest in global health diplomacy.
- Setting Benchmarks for Outcomes: Secretary Clinton was clear in saying, “Science and evidence must continue to guide our work.” “For our part, 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, Secretary Clinton continued.
Last week UNAIDS released their new global report on the HIV/AIDS that showed significant movement in the reduction in new HIV cases. New cases were down to 2.5 million in 2011 from 3.2 million in 2001. The report also highlighted that more people are living with HIV and have access to antiretroviral therapy, currently a 63% increase from 2009- 2011.
“The pace of progress is quickening—what used to take a decade is now being achieved in 24 months,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “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.”