In launching the first U.S.-based International AIDS Conference in more than 20 years, advocates are pushing for more attention and a boost in government funding for the 31-year-old epidemic. Dumping more money onto the already mounting pile of global AIDS funding could realistically cure the pandemic, supporters said Sunday during the event’s opening ceremony.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended the conference Monday to announce $80 million in new funding, while offering up an ambitious goal to eliminate all HIV-infected births. Speaking at the event, Clinton asserted that the taxpayer-funded dollars will assist in providing men and boys with voluntary circumcisions and women with life-saving medications in an effort to help the global community reach their goal of an “AIDS-free generation.”
While supporters contend that the U.S. government is not spending enough on the AIDS effort, government funding for the disease is already on the rise:
Federal funding for HIV/AIDS increased by $5 billion since 2008, with $22.25 billion budgeted for domestic programs this year, according to a report [PDF] from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The majority of those funds — $15.6 billion — are for health care and treatment services. The Obama administration released millions in emergency funding to bolster HIV programs, including $40 million in 2011 and an additional $35 million to be distributed this summer to ease the burden on AIDS Drugs Assistance Program (ADAP).
In her speech, Clinton said the United States is pouring millions of dollars more into studies to protect individuals who are prone to HIV infections, including drug users, sex workers, and homosexual and bisexual men. “If we’re going to beat AIDS, we can’t afford to avoid sensitive conversations,” she affirmed. “I’ve heard a few voices from people raising questions about America’s commitment. We will not back off. We will not back down.”
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Photo: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the XIX International Aids Conference, July 23, 2012, in Washington: AP Images