News / Africa

Looking Ahead to AIDS-Free Generation

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton


Joe DeCapua
2012 was a year when political leaders and top health officials freely spoke of attaining an AIDS-free generation. In November, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled a blueprint for achieving that goal.

Secretary Clinton said not long ago it would have been impossible to speak of an AIDS-free generation.

“Now by an AIDS-free generation, 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,” she said.

Mrs. Clinton made the comment in a speech at the National Institutes of Health. She said that HIV may be with us well into the future, but the disease that it causes need not be.”

“Now, while the finish line is not yet in sight we know we can get there because now we know the route we need to take. It requires all of us to put a variety of scientifically proven prevention tools to work in concert with each other,” she said.

Those tools include effective treatment, male circumcision, eliminating stigma and discrimination and preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. It’s a combination approach to stopping the spread of HIV.

Mitchell Warren, head of the AIDS advocacy group AVAC, applauds the U.S. blueprint for an AIDS-free generation.

“That was by far the culmination of a great year. That blueprint, which she put out, really recommits the U.S. government to a bold agenda to both provide both direct support for treatment and for prevention around the world. It also throws down the challenge to countries all over the world to really step it up and join the U.S. government in this commitment,” he said.

But Warren said bold speeches must be followed by bold actions.

“2012 will certainly be remembered as the year when the conversation changed. The big question is will we see movement beyond just the conversation,” he said.

Warren said besides outlining the immediate needs in fighting the epidemic, Mrs. Clinton’s address also highlighted the importance of scientific research.

“The same research that got us to this point is just as important going forward, particularly around the search for a microbicide and the search for a vaccine and eventually a cure,” he said.

In the last few years there’s been promising research in both vaccines and microbicides. However, follow-up studies are not expected to provide any findings until 2014 or later.

“So it’s a longer term trajectory, a longer horizon, but the science is as exciting as it’s ever been in AIDS vaccines. And certainly we need to keep pushing for that longer term solution even as we deliver on the tools that we have today,” said warren.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is one of the top U.S. scientists working on HIV/AIDS. He’s head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.  At July’s International AIDS Conference in Washington, he said learning how HIV replicates revealed some of its weaknesses.

“It’s that kind of basic science which brings us to the next step. And that is the step of interventions, predominantly in the arena of treatment and prevention,” he said.

Dr. Fauci called for a “care continuum…That is seeking out, testing, linking to care, treating when eligible and making sure they adhere.”

AVAC’s Mitchell Warren said the international AIDS conference held much promise. But 2013 will determine whether it’s a promise fulfilled.

“If in mid-2013 or World AIDS Day 2013, we look back and say, wow, that conference told us it was possible and we blew it -- we blew the opportunity of changing the way we did our work -- then it will have been an enormous failure. 2013 needs to be the year that we really transition from rhetoric to reality. . 2013 needs to be the year that we really transition from rhetoric to reality,” he said.

As the New Year begins, an unwelcome realty will be continued tight international spending, as many advocates hope to gear up research, treatment and prevention.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs