U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the International AIDS Conference plenary session. Photo by: © Ryan Rayburn / IAS

A number of pledges were announced on the second day of the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., starting with the host country, the United States.

At the conference’s first plenary session, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced $80 million in additional funding to ensure HIV-positive pregnant women would get the necessary treatment they need to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. She also pledged $40 million in support of South Africa’s plan to reach half a million boys and men in 2013 for voluntary medical male circumcisions.

Clinton pledged the following as well:

  • $15 million for implementation research.

  • $20 million for a “challenge fund” that will support country-led plans.

  • $2 million for the Robert Carr Civil Society Networks.

Further, the top U.S. diplomat appointed U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby to lead the development of a blueprint that outlines U.S. goals and objectives to achieve an AIDS-free generation. The blueprint is expected to be unveiled on World AIDS Day 2012.

Below are other pledges, calls to action and upcoming events at the weeklong conference:

  • “Continue to invest in science.” This is the message of Diane Havlir, U.S. co-chair at the conference. Speakers at Monday’s plenary session, which include U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, stressed the need to use the latest tools to end the AIDS epidemic.

  • How to boost the efficiency and efficacy of HIV response is the key theme of a symposium attended by personalities such as Jim Yong Kim and Bill Gates. Gates reiterated the importance of innovation in the prevention and treatment of HIV.

  • Studies on HIV prevalence, incidences and disparities among men who have sex with men were presented at this session, which also highlighted the need for increased HIV testing and antiretroviral therapy use in these populations.

  • Panelists explored ways to optimize various resources from organizations such as PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and plan strategically to achieve maximum impact at the country level. Among suggested approaches: shifting implementation to grass-roots level and increasing government allocation to HIV response, with donors “filling the gaps.”

  • One conference session explored how business approaches can be used to improve national and international HIV response. The CEO of the South Africa National AIDS Council, for one, said the country is continuously tapping entrepreneurs for the response.

  • Panelists provided an overview of the latest scientific studies on HIV prevention to brief policymakers and program managers. They also discussed the challenges in HIV prevention and treatment implementation, including expensive treatment interventions and the difficulty in convincing decision-makers to expand coverage of ARTs.

  • The impact of restrictions on needle and syringe exchange programs was tackled at a conference session.

  • Representatives from the Caribbean presented the pillars of the region’s new development agenda for sustainable development and HIV: unified gender, equity and human rights, and partnerships.

  • The importance of improving country ownership to achieve national HIV and AIDS goals was highlighted in a symposium. Some examples were provided, including government leadership and business sector solutions.

  • The benefits and challenges concerning “treatment as perception” were explored in another session.

  • The youth has contributed much in the fight against HIV. One session provided some examples of youth-led projects that empowered others to take action against the disease, as well as recommendations to increase youth participation in HIV response.

  • Ban Ki-moon’s message to the AIDS conference’s participants: “Let us start the end of AIDS – now.”

  • The U.S. Census Bureau launched Monday (July 23) an interactive database that provides statistical information on HIV infection, and AIDS cases and deaths around the world. It contains articles from international scientific and medical journals, HIV and AIDS surveillance reports by countries, and papers presented at conferences. Ironically, it does not include statistics from the United States.

  • UNITAID pledged to invest more than $140 million in increasing people’s access to affordable “point-of-case HIV diagnostics.” The money is expected to be channeled to projects by the Clinton Health Access Initiative, UNICEF and Médecins Sans Frontieres. Part of the money will also be used to help new manufacturers of HIV tests that are already in the last phase of development to bring their products on the market.

  • Gates does not see the end of AIDS “in sight.” The world also does not yet have the tools to an AIDS-free generation, he told Reuters in an interview.

  • HIV and AIDS advocates protested the proposed funding cut to PEPFAR under U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2013 budget request. This is “the first time a U.S. president has ever cut funding AIDS,” AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein said, according to IPS.

  • study published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes shows investments in male circumcision campaigns could “significantly” reduce HIV transmissions, especially in high-risk populations. Close to 400,000 new HIV cases could be averted by 2025 if 80 percent of the male adult population in 13 high-risk countries were circumcised, the study says, according to U.N. Dispatch’s Mark Leon Goldberg.

  • Investment in HIV vaccine research and development amounted to $845 million in 2011, according to a new study by the HIV Vaccine & Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group. This is $14 million lower than in 2010. IAVI President and CEO Margaret McGlynn, AVAC Executive Director Mitchell Warren and Joint U.N Program on HIV/AIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe acknowledged the difficult economic times, but said stabilized funding will be needed in light of breakthroughs in new tools against HIV in this guest piece for Science Speaks.

  • The World Bank will “work tirelessly” to “drive the AIDS fight forward until we win,” Jim Yong Kim said at the conference’s plenary session.

  • The Red Ribbon Award will have a special session Wednesday, July 25. Attending speakers include Sidibe, crowned Princess Mette Marit of Norway and French Minister of Health Marisol Touraine.

  • The U.S. government will be hosting a reception and panel on women and gender equality in connection to the global HIV response. This will be held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, also on Wednesday. Participants include Goosby and U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.