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

8 hours ago in Entertainment

REVIEW: ‘How To Be Single’ feels the same while trying too hard to be different

22-overlay-9

"How to Be Single" makes a valiant attempt to send up rom-com clichés but it borrows so much from other, better movies that you start to wonder if the film’s title should be "How to Commit Larceny."

9 hours ago in Music

Charles Kelley is a dad

charleskelleycassiekelley

The "Need You Now" singer and his wife Cassie McConnell Kelley welcomed son Ward Charles Kelley on Thursday.

11 hours ago in Entertainment

‘Star Wars’ producers face charges in Harrison Ford’s on-set accident

18-overlay-7

The "Indiana Jones" star broke his leg when the door of the Millennium Falcon fell on him during filming in 2014.

11 hours ago in Lifestyle

More Americans turning to Internet to play Cupid

tinderreuters

Just in time for Valentine's Day, a survey shows that more Americans are looking for love through online dating, with more than four times as many young adults using mobile apps than in 2013.

15 hours ago in Entertainment

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ headed for Broadway debut

mockingbird

Harper Lee's classic novel is coming to Broadway for the first time in a new stage version written by "West Wing" writer Aaron Sorkin.