To achieve the goal of a generation free of AIDS, the world needs to scale up its treatment of HIV, especially in women and children, said former US president Bill Clinton.
Clinton was speaking at the AIDS 2014 conference in Melbourne on Wednesday. He stated that the world was on a steady march to stamp out AIDS, however, much more is needed to be done as about 20,000 children a month are being infected with HIV.
Clinton's speech was witnessed by more than 2,000 audiences packed at Melbourne Convetion and Exhibition Centre. Clinton's speech was delayed as protesters at the venue demanded funding of HIV treatment. Acknowledging the protesters, the former US president said that different voices needed to be heard.
"This is called a conference but I think it's really a movement. That's why it's OK if someone stands up and has their say," The Guardian quoted him.
Clinton paid his tribute to the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, from which six were destined to attend the AIDS conference. He added that people killed on that airplane gave their entire lives to the proposition that common humanity matter more than the differences.
The 67-year-old stressed on preventing the transmission of AIDS to children during breastfeeding period. Up to half of all new pediatric HIV infections occurred during breastfeeding, he added.
Clinton said that new HIV guidelines of the World Health Organisation have recognised that pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as children under five, should get life-long anti-retroviral treatment.
Clinton praised the success story of Botswana in fighting HIV infections that transfer from mother to child through breastfeeding. Quoting UN data, he said that Botswana, which has the highest rates of HIV in the world, has reduced the mother to child transmitted epidemic from 30 percent to 2.1 percent by 2013.
"We know treatment is the most effective tool we have to fight Aids. New data suggests 70 per cent of HIV-related deaths could have been prevented if all countries had coverage rates as high as Botswana's," he said.
Telling that even in high-income countries, HIV has remained a problem, Clinton called for increasing the epidemic awareness programmes in the countries. He added that early testing and detection of AIDS should become an important goal all over the world.