By Jane Coaston
The biggest message from IAC thus far?
Hope for the end of AIDS.
That was the message of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s address at the International AIDS Conference yesterday. Speaking to an overflow crowd on Monday, Secretary Clinton spoke of the United States’ commitment to ending the AIDS crisis worldwide.
“I am here to set a goal for a generation that is free of AIDS,” Clinton said. She spoke of the past – about how, during the last IAC in the United States in 1990, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Dr. Eric Goosby ran a triage center for people living with HIV who became ill during the conference.
She talked about the thousands of people who have worked tirelessly to support and treat people living with HIV.
“Caring brought action,” she said, “and action has made an impact.”
Secretary Clinton also discussed how PEPFAR – the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief – is beginning to shift in order to better serve partner organizations and countries, and how the Global Fund is now a key partner in determining how and where to best deliver treatment for HIV/AIDS.
“Now all of these strategic shifts have required a lot of heavy lifting,” she said. “But it only matters in the end if it means we are saving more lives – and we are.”
Secretary Clinton focused much of her speech on the role of women in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In her remarks, Clinton announced five new funding streams to battle AIDS, including $80 million for PMTCT efforts and $37 million to focus on high-risk populations, including female sex workers.
“Women want to protect themselves from HIV and they want access to adequate health care” she said. “And we need to answer their call.”
She added that family planning efforts were key to keeping women and children healthy.
“Every woman should be able to decide when and whether to have children. This is true whether she is HIV-positive or not. “
Secretary Clinton closed her remarks by talking about her first visit to the AIDS Quilt in 1996 – the last time the quilt could be displayed in its entirety.
“We are all here today because we want to bring about that moment when we stop adding names (to the Quilt), when we can come to a gathering like this one and not talk about the fight against AIDS, but instead commemorate the birth of a generation that is free of AIDS.”