For the first time in over 20 years, the biannual International AIDS Conference will take place on American soil. From July 22-27, AIDS 2012 will convene scientists, health professionals, policy makers and those affected by AIDS in Washington, D.C. to assess progress to date and identify next steps in the global response.
The conference theme, Turning the Tide Together, underscores the pivotal moment in which AIDS 2012 is taking place. Recent scientific advances in HIV treatment and biomedical prevention, coupled with continued progress in scaling up key interventions in developing countries, have led to renewed hope and optimism across the globe.
In November 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the United States’ goal of creating an AIDS-free generation. President Barack Obama put this commitment into action on World AIDS Day with a plan to expand U.S. support for treatment to 6 million people globally.
Since AIDS was identified 30 years ago, the U.S. has played a leading role in achieving scientific progress, and in translating science into programs. The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), with bipartisan support from Congress and a strong commitment by President Obama, has put that science into action to save the lives of millions in the developing world. It is truly an honor to be leading PEPFAR and working closely with our implementing agencies — including the US Agency for International Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense and Peace Corps — to reach millions across the globe.
Evidence-based science is driving our efforts. The United States is supporting a combination of high-impact strategies that are changing the course of the epidemic. These include efforts to keep newborn children from being infected with HIV, voluntary male medical circumcision, and expanded access to antiretroviral treatment to save lives and prevent new exposure to HIV. When used in combination with each other, condoms, behavioral efforts, and other prevention tools, these interventions offer an historic opportunity to drive down the worldwide rate of new infections. Our latest results show that this is continuing to work.
In 2011, PEPFAR supported antiretroviral treatment for more than 3.9 million people. PEPFAR programs supported HIV counseling for 40 million people, and care for 13 million people, including 4.1 million orphans and vulnerable children. Last year alone, PEPFAR tested over 9 million pregnant women for HIV, reaching over 660,000 HIV-positive mothers with services to keep them alive and prevent transmission to their children. As a result, 200,000 babies were born free of HIV.
AIDS 2012 will be an opportunity to look back at the progress we have made and consider where the science will lead us to next. The conference will also be a critical venue to increase the global response to this shared responsibility, including through the Global Fund. The President has made it clear that continued strong leadership from the United States, along with heightened commitment by other partners, will allow us to seize the opportunity for dramatic progress toward an AIDS-free generation.