Clinton Says U.S. is Committed to an AIDS-Free Generation

Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

Hillary Clinton's only public event of the day was a speech to the 2012 International AIDS Conference being held today in Washington. It's the first time in two decades that the conference is being held in the U.S.. The conference had stayed away from the U.S. to protest the longtime ban on people with the virus entering the country. But That ban was lifted two years ago.

Like other administration speakers at today's conference Clinton spoke of America's goal for an AIDS-free generation. An energetic Clinton said, "I've heard a few voices from people raising questions about America's commitment to an AIDS-free generation, wondering whether we are really serious about achieving it. Well, I am here today to make it absolutely clear: The United States is committed and will remain committed to achieving an AIDS-free generation. We will not back off, we will not back down, we will fight for the resources necessary to achieve this historic milestone. "

Although she said she was preaching to the choir, she said it was needed. "We need the choir and the congregation to keep singing, lifting up their voices, and spreading the message to everyone who is still standing outside. So while I want to reaffirm my government's commitment, 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."

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"If we're going to beat AIDS, we can't afford to avoid sensitive conversations, and we can't afford not to reach the people who are at the highest risk," she said. Clinton spoke about new U.S. funding totaling $150 million to fund programs dealing with some of those sensitive conversations.

She spoke about the feasibility of eliminating the transmission HIV from infected pregnant women to their babies by 2015 and how this can be achieved by getting mothers onto anti-AIDS drugs. Currently 370,000 women globally are being treated this way and PEPFAR's on target to reach an additional 1.5 million women by next year. The U.S. will provide an additional $80 million to bridge the gap so pregnant women who are identified as being HIV positive get the medical assistance they need. She also announced an additional $40 million in US funding to support efforts in South Africa to boost voluntary medical circumcisions for males.

Clinton cited statistics that show how women in Africa are an at-risk population for HIV. She said that in Sub-Saharan Africa today, women account for 60 percent of those living with HIV and that about 12 percent of female sex workers were HIV positive.