In July 2012, at the International AIDS Conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised the world that we would have a solid blueprint for an “AIDS-Free Generation” by World AIDS Day on December 1st.
Last Thursday, November 29, Clinton unveiled that blueprint.
AIDS is a destructive, debilitating disease that currently affects over 34 million people globally and 1.2 million in the US alone – with millions more being infected every year. Though there is no cure yet, antiretroviral treatment has proven to be highly effective in lessening the symptoms of infection and preventing HIV from developing into full-blown AIDS.
The US has always been at the forefront of AIDS treatment and prevention, but the Obama administration in particular has taken significant steps forward in alleviating AIDS problems both domestically and internationally. The President not only increased funding for the pre-existing President Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, but he also added the very first domestic AIDS plan. And at the 2012 International AIDS Conference that Secretary Clinton spoke at, the US pledged an additional $150 million toward creating AIDS prevention and management infrastructure in developing nations.
Last Thursday, Secretary Clinton revealed yet another step the administration has taken: the blueprint plan entitled “An AIDS-Free Generation.” The plan has three main goals: reducing transmission rates (particularly among young adults), eliminating HIV-infected births (where the mother passes the infection to the fetus), and increasing access to treatment for the infected. In addition, Clinton stated that the plan would address gender inequalities that make women more likely to contract the disease.
Though these goals may sound lofty, statistics show that they’re achievable Just a few of many optimistic facts: HIV infection rates have decreased 25% in the last six years worldwide. A 50% drop in new infections has been reported in over 20 countries in the past decade. From 2009 to 2011 alone, there was a 60% increase in the number of infected people with access to treatment. These achievements are in no small part due to US aid and assistance.
These statistics aren’t meant to suggest that Obama’s new plan is easy to achieve, but it certainly is possible. In taking the first, bold step toward a better, healthier future for the world, Obama and Clinton are once again putting the US at the crossroads of scientific innovation, foreign aid, and moral obligations. And that is a place we should strive to stay.