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Clinton says U.S. is committed to achieving an AIDS-free generation

posted 23 Jul 2012, 10:29 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 23 Jul 2012, 10:30 ]

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States "will not back off, we will not back down" from achieving the goal of an AIDS-free generation.

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (JULY 23, 2012) (HOST POOL) - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed the opening session at the 19th International AIDS Conference on Monday (July 23), saying the U.S. is committed to achieving and AIDS-free generation.

"I am here to make it absolutely clear: The United States is committed and will remain committed to achieving an AIDS-free generation," Clinton told the conference in Washington.

"We will not back off, we will not back down, we will fight for the resources to achieve this historic milestone." Clinton's keynote speech sought to underscore Washington's dedication to the global AIDS fight amid fears that U.S. leadership might suffer as spending cuts and budget woes threaten a range of government programs.

Clinton announced more than $150 million in new U.S. spending initiatives geared toward leveraging progress against AIDS already achieved through new drug treatments, programs to stop mother-to-child transmission of HIV and the preventive effect of expanded voluntary male circumcision.

The United Nations estimates that about 34 million people are living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS. But U.N. figures show that the number of worldwide AIDS-related deaths fell to 1.7 million last year from some 1.8 million in 2010, after peaking at 2.3 million in 2005.

An estimated 8 million people in lower-income countries are receiving antiretroviral drugs, and the United Nations has set a target to raise that to 15 million by 2015.

This week's gathering in Washington is the first international AIDS conference in the United States since 1990, and follows a 2009 decision by the Obama administration to drop a standing U.S. ban on HIV-positive people entering the country. Clinton, who was met by scattered chants and cheers as she started her speech, acknowledged the change.