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Treatment brings AIDS-free age near: Clinton

WASHINGTON--The United States set a new direction for its global AIDS campaign on Tuesday, emphasizing HIV-fighting drugs that can prevent new infections to bring the goal of “an AIDS-free generation” within reach, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

Clinton, outlining new priorities for the U.S. global AIDS program started in 2003, said drug treatments, combined with new efforts to stop mother-to-child transmission of HIV and the preventive effect of expanded voluntary male circumcision, had changed the AIDS battle plan.

“Creating an AIDS-free generation has never been a policy priority for the United States government — until today,” Clinton said in a speech at the U.S. National Institutes of Health outside Washington.

“This goal would have been unimaginable just a few years ago,” she said. “While the finish line is not yet in sight, we know we can get there because now we know the route we need to take.”

The United States, through its President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program, has channeled billions of dollars into the fight against HIV/AIDS, which has infected more than 60 million people and killed nearly 30 million since it was first reported in 1981.

The PEPFAR program has been a major factor in the global response to HIV. In 2010, nearly US$16 billion was spent on HIV response in low- and middle-income countries, according to the U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and it estimates that at least US$22 billion will be needed to combat the disease by 2015, helping avert 12 million new infections and 7.4 million more deaths in the next decade.

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