In preparation for World AIDS Day, December 1, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced a “blueprint” for an AIDS-free generation, which she hopes will come sooner than you might think.
"We can reach a point where virtually no children are born with the virus," Clinton said, according to CNN, also addressing stopping transmission and increasing medical care for people who are already infected.
"Getting ahead of the pandemic" has been a priority of Clinton’s secretaryship and World AIDS Day is an opportunity for her to raise awareness and get more people involved in the effort to rid the world of AIDS.
The first step is to get people to start thinking of AIDS as something that can be defeated, as signaled by the official name of the plan: "President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation." It’s a noble plan, but an ambitious one.
When the UN convened in 2000 to set goals for dealing with the global AIDS crisis, they planned to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS and begin turning back the tide by 2015. Michael Sidibe, executive director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), still believes that that’s an attainable goal, according to what he told CNN.
While stopping the spread by 2015 may be ambitious, great strides have certainly been made. AIDS-related deaths have dropped by more than 25% in just the last six years, according to UNAIDS, and there's even been a significant drop of new infection rates in some of the traditionally hardest-hit countries — 73% and 71% decreases in Malawi and Botswana, respectively.
Of course, there’s still a lot to be done, even in the United States. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than half of people newly infected with HIV/AIDS in the United States don’t even know about their infection, and only about a third of people ages 18 to 24 have ever been tested — and only a dismal 13% of high school students.
This World AIDS Day, help Secretary Clinton and UNAIDS reach their noble goal by getting tested and committing to always use condoms. For more information about what you can do to help, check out the AIDS.gov website.
And to get motivated, check out this awesome visualization of the AIDS crisis over the years at The Atlantic.