The Path to an AIDS-Free Generation
On November 8, 2011, Secretary Clinton called on the world to join the United States in working to achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation during an address at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
An AIDS-free generation means that virtually no children are born with the virus; that as these children become teenagers and adults, they are at a far lower risk of becoming infected than they would be today, thanks to a wide range of prevention tools; and finally that if they do acquire HIV, they have access to treatment that helps prevent them from developing AIDS and passing the virus to others.
Through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and across the government, the United States is using science to guide policies, strengthen programs on the ground, and maximize the impact of U.S. efforts. Three key scientific interventions have been identified as pivotal: stopping mother-to-child transmission, expanding voluntary male circumcision, and scaling up treatment as prevention. When used in combination with each other, condoms and other prevention tools, these three interventions offer an historic opportunity to drive down the worldwide rate of new infection.
1) 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.
2) 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.
3) 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 her remarks, Secretary Clinton issued a specific call to action to the world to achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation.
- Science must guide these prevention efforts.
- Partner countries must have ownership of their AIDS programs and share more responsibility for funding the fight against AIDS within their borders.
- Finally, other donor nations must do more, including by supporting and strengthening the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Meanwhile, the Fund has its own responsibilities to meet to ensure its money is being effectively and efficiently spent.
To learn more about the U.S. commitment to the global HIV/AIDS response, visit www.pepfar.gov.