Clinton: New AIDS plan emphasizes early treatment of HIV, spending on prevention

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a roadmap Thursday for the global fight against AIDS, challenging critics who say the United States has lost focus on beating the disease. 

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The report from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) states that the world is at a "tipping point" on AIDS, and promises to usher in a generation free of the disease. 

"I firmly believe we have laid out a plan that every American president, [cabinet] secretary and Congress will want to build on," Clinton said a press conference Thursday. 

The document emphasizes early treatment of HIV and investments in preventive measures, with the goal of ensuring that the number of new patients on antiretroviral treatments eventually exceeds the number of new HIV infections. 

The blueprint argues that even the most AIDS-ridden countries can reach this point within five years.

The United States leads the world in investments to fight AIDS, which totaled $16.8 billion in poor countries last year, according to The Associated Press. 

Among the priorities endorsed by PEPFAR on Thursday were reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV; increasing male circumcision for HIV prevention; and increasing access to condoms, HIV testing and counseling.

The roadmap drew praise from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a founding co-chairwoman of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus. 

“The successful efforts of the bipartisan PEPFAR program and the international efforts through the Global Fund, coupled with remarkable breakthroughs in scientific research in recent years, have brought us to [an] important crossroads," Lee said in a statement. 

"Now more than ever, a roadmap to rapidly scale-up effective evidence-based interventions can truly begin to put us on a path to achieving an AIDS-free generation and lead other nations and donors in this collective effort.”

Created in 2002, the Global Fund is the world's largest international financing project against AIDS. But it has been hurt by the poor economy and corruption scandals.

President Obama also released a proclamation marking World AIDS Day, which is Saturday.

"Moving forward, we must continue to focus on populations with the highest HIV disparities — including gay men, and African American and Latino communities — and scale up effective, evidence-based interventions to prevent and treat HIV," Obama said Thursday.