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 Entertainment, Sports

Ronda Rousey biopic in the works

rrousey

Paramount executives have picked up the rights to the 28-year-old's autobiography.

in Sports

Daily fantasy sports land in gambling industry crosshairs

yahoofantasy

Each year millions of Americans draft virtual sports teams online and enter real-money competitions that last only a few hours.

in Local Sports

DeSean Jackson says no one can stop him not even Darrelle Revis or Richard Sherman

washingtoncamp

"I don't think no on can guard me. It's how I feel about myself. I don't feel no one can stop me. You can get Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman - whoever you want to get."

in Sports

Judge: St. Louis residents don’t need vote on stadium funds

In this Sept. 26, 2013 file photo, fans watch during the third quarter of an NFL football game between the St. Louis Rams and the San Francisco 49ers at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Pro football may have a firm foothold as America’s game, but in baseball-mad St. Louis the NFL is decidedly second fiddle. The St. Louis Cardinals can anticipate a red army at Busch Stadium for Game 5 of the World Series. Eight blocks away at the antiseptic Edward Jones Dome, the Monday Night Football matchup between the struggling St. Louis Rams and the Seattle Seahawks will likely feature a backdrop of thousands of empty seats.

The St. Louis Rams play in the Edward Jones Dome, which is outdated by NFL standards. The team is weighing a move to Los Angeles

in Entertainment

Ben Stiller back as dimwitted male model in ‘Zoolander 2′ trailer

13-overlay1

The sequel to the 2001 comedy is still several months away but with one-liners like these, we can't wait.