H. Clinton urges 'AIDS-free generation'

Nov. 8, 2011 at 5:41 PM
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BETHESDA, Md., Nov. 8 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday called for the creation of an "AIDS-free generation."

Clinton spoke to an audience of medical professionals at the National Institutes of Health's Masur Auditorium in Bethesda, Md.

"Now, by an AIDS-free generation," Clinton said, "I mean one where, first, virtually no children are born with the virus; second, as these children become teenagers and adults, they are at far lower risk of becoming infected than they would be today thanks to a wide range of prevention tools; and third, if they do acquire HIV, they have access to treatment that helps prevent them from developing AIDS and passing the virus on to others."

The human immunodeficiency virus, transmitted by sexual contact, causes AIDS.

"HIV may be with us well into the future," Clinton said. "But the disease that it causes need not be."

The secretary said there were "three key interventions" that make her goal achievable.

"First, preventing mother-to-child transmission," she said. "Today, one in seven new infections occurs when a mother passes the virus to her child. We can get that number to zero.

"[Second,] an effective combination prevention strategy has to include voluntary medical male circumcision. In the past few years, research has proven that this low-cost procedure reduces the risk of female-to-male transmission by more than 60 percent, and that the benefit is life-long.

"Since 2007, some 1 million men around the world have been circumcised for HIV prevention."

But "even once people do become HIV-positive, we can still make it far less likely that they will transmit the virus to others by treating them with the anti-retroviral drugs. So this is the third element of combination prevention that I want to mention."

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