News

Bill Clinton says AIDS-free generation ‘within reach’

Bill Clinton says AIDS-free generation ‘within reach’

AIDS: Addressing an international conference on AIDS in the Australian city of Melbourne, Clinton (pictured here last month) said much progress has been made since the world started fighting the AIDS epidemic. Photo: Reuters

By Katie Nguyen

MELBOURNE (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – An AIDS-free generation is within reach if early treatment is provided to people infected with HIV and help scaled up for women and children, former U.S. president Bill Clinton said on Wednesday.

Addressing an international conference on AIDS in the Australian city of Melbourne, Clinton said much progress has been made since the world started fighting the AIDS epidemic.

His speech, which attracted hundreds of scientists, activists and journalists, was briefly interrupted by protesters holding placards, demanding a “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions to fund the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“We should no longer have any doubts, nor should anyone else, that we have the ability to see this effort through to the end,” said Clinton, resuming his speech.

“An AIDS-free generation is within our reach,” he told the packed auditorium.

Although the world had made great strides in expanding HIV treatment to millions of people, every year more than 2 million people – about four a minute – were newly infected, he said.

The number of people dying from AIDS-related illnesses has fallen steadily in recent years. In 2013, some 1.5 million people died, compared with 2.4 million people in 2005, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Big challenges include finding and treating people with HIV early, and delivering care in hard-to-reach and rural places.

He said poor countries in particular must be supported to meet specific goals over the next three to five years.

Countries must drastically reduce the transmission of HIV through breastfeeding, ensure babies born with HIV receive immediate treatment, and identify and treat children infected with HIV in the past decade, Clinton said.

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS can be transmitted via blood, breast milk and by semen during sex, but can be kept in check with cocktails of drugs known as antiretroviral therapy.

“As many as 50 percent of all new pediatric infections occur during the breastfeeding period,” Clinton said.

“So, keeping these women in care until the end of breastfeeding is perhaps the single most important thing we can do to achieve an AIDS-free generation. It’s our big remaining barrier,” he said.

While the Clinton family charity, Health Access Initiative, mainly targets the poor, he acknowledged HIV was also a high-income problem. He noted too that the number of infections among younger men having sex with men is rising in the United States.

He ended his speech, calling for a redoubling of efforts to combat stigma and prejudice which have been blamed for the high levels of HIV in the most high-risk groups: sex workers, gay men, prisoners, injecting drug users and transgender people.

(Editing by Alex Whiting and Louise Ireland)

Recent Headlines

in Local Sports

No. 2 seed Tennessee beats No. 11 Gonzaga in overtime

Fresh
Gonzaga’s mascot

Tennessee beat Gonzaga 73-69 in overtime on Saturday to advance to the Spokane Regional final of the NCAA Tournament.

in Local Sports

Mariners prospect Victor Sanchez passes away

Updated
seattle mariners logo generic

Seattle Mariners pitching prospect Victor Sanchez passed away in Venezuela, the club announced Saturday.

in Sports

Kentucky remains undefeated after beating Notre Dame & moves on to Final Four

Kentucky's Trey Lyles, left, and Karl-Anthony Towns, right, listen to Willie Cauley-Stein during the team's news conference at the NCAA men's basketball tournament regional, Friday, March 27, 2015, in Cleveland. Kentucky plays Notre Dame in the final Saturday, hoping to extend their unbeaten streak and reach the Final Four.

Andrew Harrison hit two free throws with six seconds left as the Wildcats survived a 68-66 win over third seed Notre Dame.

in Local Sports

10-man FC Dallas holds off the Sounders

FC Dallas's Michel celebrates as he jogs to midfield after scoring on a penalty kick against the Vancouver Whitecaps in the second half of an MLS playoff soccer match, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Frisco, Texas. FC Dallas won 2-1.

FC Dallas played with 10 men for the majority of the night, the Seattle Sounders failed to capitalize and the match ended in a scoreless draw Saturday night.

in Sports

Wisconsin heads to Final Four after win over Arizona

Wisconsin Badgers Head Coach Bo Ryan works with the team during the first round of the NCAA Midwest Regional basketball game in Omaha, Neb., Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Badgers (35-3) denied the Wildcats (34-4) a Final Four berth for the second straight year, having beaten them by one point in overtime in Anaheim a year ago when their seeds were reversed.