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Sec. of State gives policy speech on international AIDS pandemic

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a speech Tuesday morning at the National Institutes of Health and announcing new U.S. initiatives to address the global pandemic.

Reuters reports:

“Creating an AIDS-free generation has never been a policy priority for the United States government — until today,” Clinton said in a speech at the U.S. National Institutes of Health outside Washington.

“This goal would have been unimaginable just a few years ago,” she said. “While the finish line is not yet in sight, we know we can get there because now we know the route we need to take.”

In her speech, Clinton called for the use of scientific evidence in stopping the spread of the virus. To do that, she laid out three policy objectives based on recent research, according to a press release from the White House:

  • Prevention of mother-to-child transmission: Today, 1 in 7 new infections worldwide occur through mother-to-child transmission. In 2010, PEPFAR helped prevent 114,000 babies from being born with HIV. In June, PEPFAR and UNAIDS launched a global plan for eliminating new infections among children by 2015.
  • Voluntary medical male circumcision: This low-cost procedure reduces the risk of female-to-male transmission by more than 60 percent. It is a one-time intervention with a lifelong benefit. PEPFAR has financed three-fourths of the one million male circumcisions for HIV prevention around the world since 2007.
  • Treatment as prevention: Once people do become HIV-positive, recent science has shown that treatment with anti-retroviral drugs helps prevent the transmission of the virus to others. Effective treatment of a person living with HIV reduces the risk of transmission to a partner by 96%.

In addition to the policy announcements, which also included a call for other countries, particularly those impacted by the pandemic, to contribute funding to the battle against the virus as well as calling for an increase in international funding to the international fund for AIDS, Malaria and TB, Clinton also announced she was appointing talk show host Ellen DeGeneres as Special Envoy for Global AIDS awareness.

“I’m honored to have been chosen by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as Special Envoy for Global AIDS awareness. The fight against AIDS is something that has always been close to my heart. And I’m happy that I can use my platform to educate people and spread hope. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go look up what ‘envoy’ means,” said DeGeneres.

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