Health/Fitness » HIV/AIDS

Hillary Clinton’s PEPFAR Plans for an "AIDS-Free Generation"

by Andrew  Clark
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Thursday Dec 27, 2012
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Late last month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled the State Department’s "blueprint" to combat AIDS in the coming years. Officially named the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the plan sets out to illustrate where past efforts have brought the world and how a comprehensive and broad plan can bring us ever closer to an "AIDS-free generation."

"HIV may well be with us into the future, but [AIDS] need not be," Clinton stated, putting an emphasis on early testing and treatment. Furthermore, one of Clinton’s main talking points was ensuring that transmission be brought to a minimum, particularly in reference to children being born with the virus. When she speaks of an AIDS-free generation, her implication is that these children can be born without infection with the proper measures taken.

Among the many important goals and points made, one of the newer and more aggressive points being made is the contraction rates and sexual safety of women. Clinton has been vocal regarding America’s continued need to lead on this issue globally, particularly in those nations with the highest demand and the least available resources. The plan has a mostly optimistic voice, taking great strides to show the multitude of ways that we may battle the epidemic.

Always the pragmatist, Clinton was careful to note that despite the plan’s optimism and determination, there are no illusions within the administration that this is not a staggeringly uphill battle.

"To be clear, we still face enormous challenges. Far too many people are dying from this disease. We need to reach more people with both prevention and treatment services. But today, thanks to remarkable scientific discoveries and the work of countless individuals, organizations and governments, an AIDS-free generation is not just a rallying cry -- it is a goal that is within our reach."

PEPFAR was first put into place by the Bush administration, and the Obama presidency has seen great increases in the scope and results of the plan. Admittedly much of the PEPFAR blueprint is more of a list of what the Obama administration will continue to do based on the successes of his first term. But some of these are appropriately noteworthy.


Increasing Antiretroviral Treatment With a Three-Fold Increase

The most important of these achievements is the dramatic three-fold increase of antiretroviral treatment supplied by the U.S., treating 5.1 million people along with providing antiretrovirals to pregnant women to prevent children from being born with HIV/AIDS. Results like this are uniform across all of the different implementations of the plan, making it clear as to why the blueprint mentions past work with equal pride as these new measures are being put into place.

"The pace of progress is quickening. What used to take a decade is now being achieved in 24 months," said Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS. "We are scaling up faster and smarter than ever before. It is the proof that with political will and follow-through, we can reach our shared goals by 2015."

The blueprint contains various "road maps" to implement these shared target goals of the plan, including a Road Map for Saving Lives, Smart Investments, Shared Responsibility, and Driving Scientific Results. A close look at PEPFAR unveils a design that is both broad and specific, holistic and detailed.

While the idealistic tagline of an AIDS Free Generation may seem slightly far-fetched at this time, the more pragmatic aspects of the blueprint reveals thoughtful and far-reaching ways to combat HIV/AIDS on every important level.

Despite these noble goals set forth by PEPFAR, many have since come forward to criticize what is thought to be political grandstanding without any measures for follow through behind it. While results have been promising, much of the work globally has been done independent of PEPFAR’s efforts, perhaps showing that empty promises do not achieve the same results that the immediate and effective treatment that other nations have provided. A recent New York Times editorial was particularly hard on the lack of details.

The editorial piercingly pointed out that PEPFAR "failed to set firm goals for the percentage of people to be provided with treatments or the reduction in disease to be achieved, nor does it offer a pledge of new money to help afflicted nations carry out the tasks."

Policy criticisms aside, PEPFAR remains a promising and rousing step for the U.S. government to be taking. While funding and detailed actions are essential, continued dedication and urgency is the most important way to properly defeat this epidemic on a global scale. Furthermore, the plan’s strong focus on countries that most need assistance illustrates a dedication to truly bringing this "AIDS free generation" into reality. This is not a political ploy or a selfish national cause, but a worldwide call to arms to eradicate HIV/AIDS.

"Together, we can deliver a better future to millions across the globe," Clinton said in her closing statement in the plan. "A future where children are not born with HIV, where teenagers and adults are at far lower risk of contracting the virus, where those who do have the virus get lifesaving treatment. A future where every child has the chance to live up to his or her God-given potential. That’s a future worth fighting for, together."


To read the PEPFAR Blueprint in full, visit http://www.pepfar.gov/documents/organization/201386.pdf

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