By Cassandra Novick
During an appearance at the 2012 International AIDs Conference in Washington, D.C. Monday, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton pledged new funds to continue the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“I want to reaffirm my government’s commitment,” Clinton said. “I’m also here to boost yours. This is a fight we can win. We have already come so far – too far to stop now.”
Clinton proceeded to announce four new efforts by the US government that plan to reach out to populations that are most vulnerable to HIV.
First, Clinton said that the US would invest $15 million in implementation research in order to construct effective, individualized intervention, prevention and treatment programs for key at-risk populations.
Second, Clinton said $20 million would be allocated to launch a “challenge fund that will support country-led plans to explained services for key populations.”
Additionally, the Robert Carr Civil Society Network Fund will receive a $2 million investment from the government to strengthen the support of civil society groups that reach out to at-risk populations.
Finally, Clinton insisted on filling the treatment gap for women by providing $80 million in additional funding to ensure women get the treatment they need through innovative approaches that will help reduce the number of mother-to-child transmissions to zero.
Clinton also promised that the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) will remain a priority and that Global Aids Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby will lead in developing the next phase of US efforts to combat AIDS.
“So let there be no mistake, the United States is accelerating its work on all three of these fronts in the effort to create an AIDS-free generation,” Clinton insisted.
Clinton then proceeded to summarize a multitude of success stories that have represented a historic impact on HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Examples of what Clinton dubbed to be “leadership we welcome” are the circumcision campaigns in Kenya, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe where some males lawmakers in Zimbabwe “wanted to show their constituents how safe and virtually painless the procedure is, so they went to a mobile clinic and got circumcised.”
The U.S. government will also help Zambia by getting more people on treatment and scaling-up voluntary circumcision efforts which is predicted to “drive down the number of new sexually transmitted infections there by more than 25 percent over the next 5 years.”
Clinton also noted that in Zambia, between 2009 and 2011, the number of new mother-to-child transmission went down by more than half.
“And we are just getting started,” Clinton said.
Clinton then called the audience to envision “the lives we will touch in Zambia alone – all the mothers and fathers and children who will never have their lives ripped apart by this disease. And now, multiply that across the many other countries we are working with.”
“If you’re not getting excited about this, please raise your hand and I will send somebody to check your pulse.” Clinton joked.
Early in her remarks, Clinton faced an eruption of protest from activists calling for an end to Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which a flyer handed out by the protesters said represents “the greatest expansion in a decade of pharmaceutical company power to make drug prices high.”
Despite the noise, Clinton continued, acknowledging the protest by commenting, “what would the AIDS Conference be without a little protesting?”