U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has marked World AIDS Day, which takes place December 1, by unveiling what she called a "blueprint" that could help create an "AIDS-free generation."
Clinton outlined a broad plan that includes U.S. investments in HIV prevention and treatment programs, partnerships with organizations and countries to utilize resources and an emphasis on increasing HIV services for women and girls.
Clinton also said the United States plan would "go where the virus is" and try to reach drug users, prostitutes and others who may be exposed to HIV, but are reluctant to come forward.
"When discrimination, stigma and other factors drive these groups into the shadows, the epidemic becomes that much harder to fight. That is why we are supporting country-led plans to expand services for key populations and bolstering the efforts of civil society groups to reach out to them," said Clinton.
The AIDS blueprint is part of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief [PEPFAR]
, created by former President George W. Bush in 2003.
Clinton said the United States has provided direct support to more than five million people on antiretroviral treatment since the program's inception.
Clinton said during the past decade, the rate of new HIV infections has dropped significantly in 25 low- and middle-income countries, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. She said that as a result, an AIDS-free generation soon could be a reality.
"As we continue to drive down the number of new infections and drive up the number of people on treatment eventually, we will be able to treat more people than become infected every year. That will be the tipping point. We will then get ahead of the pandemic and an AIDS-free generation will be in our sight," said Clinton.
The World Health Organization reports that as of 2011, approximately 34 million people were living with HIV, and sub-Saharan Africa remains the most affected region.
UNAIDS Executive Director Michael Sidibe said the new PEPFAR guidelines will help continue the downward trend in new HIV infections.
"This blueprint gives us a new unity of direction with greater focus and determination," said Sidibe.
Clinton was introduced by Florence Ngobeni-Allen, an HIV-positive AIDS foundation ambassador who lost her husband and a child to the virus.
"I lost everything. I lost my world. Losing a child to AIDS is the worst thing a mother could go through. I have told this story so many times, but it still feels like yesterday," she said.
In a statement marking World AIDS Day, President Barack Obama said America is investing in comprehensive programs designed to expand treatment and prevent new infections.