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Sen Clinton On World AIDS Day Dec 1 2008
  Hillary Clinton
Statement Of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton On World AIDS Day
"Today marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. During the past two decades, we have made incredible advances in care and treatment for people living with HIV, but there are still far too many people both in the United States and around the world who are impacted by this wholly preventable epidemic. Let us mark today not only by remembering the millions who have died, but by recommitting ourselves to the goal of halting and reducing the spread of HIV.
"In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV. Every year, an estimated 56,000 new infections occur in our country, and one out of every five Americans with HIV is unaware that they are positive. Minority communities are disproportionately impacted by the epidemic. Rates of infection among African Americans are seven times greater than they are for whites, and rates of infection among Hispanics are three times greater than those for whites. In addition, men who have sex with men account for about half of new infections. We are not doing enough to prevent new cases of HIV in these heavily impacted communities and we are still not providing care to all HIV-positive Americans. Healthreform efforts must ensure that Americans living with chronic diseases, including AIDS, have access to affordable, quality care that will help them have longer, healthier lives.
"Globally, we have made progress. Thirty-three million people are estimated to be living with HIV worldwide. The number of new infections is thought to have decreased by 300,000 over the past year. But we are still not doing enough. Less than half of young men and women surveyed in 64 countries could accurately describe how to protect themselves against HIV. In too many nations, infection rates continue to rise among women, with inadequate governmental efforts to address their needs. Worldwide, we have failed to adequately define and meet goals for prevention. We have done a better job in expanding access to treatment. In the years since the UN's Special Session on AIDS in 2001, the number of people receiving life-extending medications has increased tenfold. Deaths from AIDS continue to decrease. Yet we can still do more - approximately two thirds of pregnant women living with HIV do not receive the antiretroviral medications that could improve their health and prevent transmission of the virus to their children. Half of perinatally infected children die before the age of two. Earlier this year, I was honored to work with my colleagues in Congress to triple funding for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which helps to fund important prevention, care, and treatment programs in multiple countries. Our investment in this program helps the women and children who are often most vulnerable to HIV.
"We must do more to address the stigma surrounding AIDS. We must engage in honest, open, and scientifically sound discussion about ways to prevent transmission and protect ourselves, and we must ensure that persons living with HIV/AIDS are involved in developing, implementing, and maintaining prevention and treatment programs."
This year's World AIDS Day theme is "Lead, Empower, Deliver." The theme was chosen to recognize the leadership of governments, communities, civil society, and people living with HIV and AIDS, as well as highlight the political leadership necessary to reduce and ultimately halt the spread of HIV around the globe.
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