Clinton calls for “AIDS-free generation,” signs Ellen DeGeneres up to help

Twitter highlights of Clinton's speech at the NIH on Tuesday, November 8.

In a speech at the National Institutes of Health today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it is time for the world to “usher in an AIDS-free generation,” calling it a new “policy priority” for the U.S.

Clinton said scientific advances have made it possible to strive for a generation in which “virtually no children” are born with HIV. She added that a “wide range of prevention tools” can help prevent the spread of the virus and that access to treatment can prevent people who are HIV-positive from passing the virus on to others.

Flickr, Gobierno de Guatemala

“Now, HIV may be with us well into the future. But the disease that it causes need not be. This is, I admit, an ambitious goal, and I recognize I am not the first person to envision it,” Clinton said, according to a transcript of today’s speech, which was described by the State Department as the first in a series of remarks from Obama administration officials leading up to World AIDS Day.

“Now we know beyond a doubt if we take a comprehensive view of our approach to the pandemic, treatment doesn’t take away from prevention. It adds to prevention,” Clinton said. “So let’s end the old debate over treatment versus prevention and embrace treatment as prevention,” she added.

The calls for “treatment as prevention” — as we’ve reported here at Humanosphere — have grown louder as the science has grown more solid.

Still, AIDS advocates have been at odds with the Obama administration over the direction of PEPFAR and limited funding increases. Clinton’s words also come as Congress is considering budget cuts that could further affect the program. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Any scale-up in prevention efforts will require new funding, but the global economic crisis has slowed donations. Governments’ contributions to the fight against AIDS dropped 9.7% in 2010, to $6.9 billion, from $7.6 billion in 2009, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation and UNAIDS. U.S. funding for global AIDS programs for fiscal 2011, including the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, was about $28 million less than for fiscal 2010. The U.S. is the world’s largest AIDS donor. Both the House and the Senate are considering appropriations for global health, including for HIV/AIDS, that are below President Barack Obama’s request for fiscal 2012.

Comedienne named Global AIDS Envoy

Clinton also announced that talk show host Ellen DeGeneres will be a new Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness. USA Today reports:

“Ellen is going to bring not only her sharp wit and her big heart, but her impressive TV audience and more than 8 million followers on Twitter, to raise awareness and support for this effort,” Clinton said. “I know we can look forward to many contributions from Ellen and her loyal fans across the globe.”

There was also a flurry of Twitter activity during Clinton’s speech. Here are some highlights:

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  • Simply fantastic! Thank you Ellen for stepping up to the plate. You are a perfect representative of the Gay & Lesbian Community. Now if you teamed up with Oprah Winfrey – the two of you could rock this world & make it such a better place -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qrr4_5jQoaM.

  • Simply fantastic! Thank you Ellen for stepping up to the plate. You are a perfect representative of the Gay & Lesbian Community. Now if you teamed up with Oprah Winfrey – the two of you could rock this world & make it such a better place -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qrr4_5jQoaM.