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

Today in entertainment history: Oct. 24

jamesbrown

A look back on some of the Hollywood headlines that made history.

in Local Sports

Miller has 31 saves, Canucks beat Blues 4-1

Vancouver Canucks' Henrik Sedin (33), of Sweden, talks with Alexander Edler (23), of Sweden, during a timeout in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Phoenix Coyotes Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz. The Coyotes defeated the Canucks 1-0.

Vancouver snaps 2 game losing skid with win over St. Louis

in Sports

Manning, Sanders lead Broncos past Chargers 35-21

FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2014 file photo, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning calls an audible at the line of scrimmage against the San Diego Chargers in the second quarter of an NFL divisional playoff football game in Denver. Folks who watched the Broncos' NFL playoff win over the San Diego Chargers on television Sunday couldn't help but notice how often, and loudly, Manning used the code word "Omaha" as he barked signals. Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce president and CEO David Brown said he wants to explore the possibility of hiring Manning, one of the sporting world's top pitchmen, to shoot a promotional ad for Omaha.

Peyton Manning threw 3TD passes - all to Emmanuel Sanders - as the Broncos knocked off the Chargers Thursday Night

in Sports

Steve Nash ruled out for season with back injury

Steve Nash

The Lakers and Nash announced their decision Thursday, less than a week before the start of the 40-year-old Nash's 19th NBA season.

in Local Sports

WWU: Men’s soccer team & volleyball crew victorious

western washington logo generic copy/wwu

Vikings score twice in less than two minutes midway through first half to win for the fifth time in their last six games, improving to 7-6-1 overall and 5-4-1 in GNAC play.