In advance of this year’s World AIDS Day on Saturday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined a blueprint to continue advancing recent gains in HIV education and treatment, eventually leading to a future AIDS-free generation.
Clinton cited the dramatically dropping number of new infections across the globe, the growing numbers of HIV-positive individuals gaining access to treatment, and the continued advances in scientific research as reasons to be optimistic about eventually eradicating new cases of AIDS for future generations:
CLINTON: Now, make no mistake about it: HIV may well be with us into the future. But the disease that it causes need not be. We can reach a point where virtually no children are born with the virus, and as these children become teenagers and adults, they are at a far lower risk of becoming infected than they are today. And if they do acquire HIV, they have access to treatment that helps prevent them from not only from developing AIDS, but from and passing the virus on to others.
Clinton also pointed out that some communities at risk for contracting HIV — such as drug users, men who have sex with men, and sex workers — are often driven “into the shadows” by societal stigma, shame, and discrimination, and global efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic must work to correct that. Recent research has confirmed that anti-gay stigma helps maintain the HIV epidemic by hampering the effectiveness of HIV advocacy programs, and homophobia continues to impede gay men’s access to HIV services.
Public health officials maintain that early detection of the HIV virus is one of the most important methods of containing the HIV/AIDS epidemic, so treatment can begin early and the virus can hopefully be contained. Earlier this month, a government-backed health panel endorsed regular HIV screening for everyone between the ages of 15 and 65, ensuring that HIV testing will now be covered under Obamacare.