Bill Clinton addresses AIDS 2014 conference | Pacific Beat

Bill Clinton addresses AIDS 2014 conference

Bill Clinton addresses AIDS 2014 conference

Updated 24 July 2014, 11:37 AEST

Former US President Bill Clinton was given a rock star reception at the AIDS 2014 conference in Melbourne.

Since leaving the Oval Office President Clinton, has through his global health initiative, taken a leading role in the fight against HIV/AIDS, funding research, and preventative projects around the world, including in our region, particularly PNG.

Our Pacific Correspondent Campbell Cooney was in the hall for his speech.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts

Speakers: Campbell Cooney, Pacific Correspondent; Bill Clinton, Clinton Foundation

COONEY: Well, what the presence of President Clinton does is get people to the conference who would perhaps not come along. It brings, there's a lot of people who were invited yes, so these were people who were living in Melbourne and no doubt involved in business and then civil society that is here, so what it did was get them along to the conference, it's attracted a lot of attention. There were more camera crews from right around the world and right around Australia at this event, at this conference than there has been for any others, and that includes the official opening and it basically gives it a little bit of that celebrity tingle. Now, of course, Bob Geldof is going to be here tomorrow, former Boom Town Rat and the Feed the World man. It just brings the people in who you are not going to see and it gives it that little bit of a celebrity status to it as well.

COUTTS: Now as you say, he did get a rousing reception, a rock star like reception, but there were some in the audience, from Cambodia, I believe who weren't as thrilled?

COONEY: Well, yeah, it's an interesting little protest, it was called Support the Robin Hood Tax. Now it must be said that it was very organised, it was all very, very, polite, there was no big security scare and you got the feeling, after awhile that perhaps this might have been planned as part of the whole show. They came in, they started chanting from right around the room, they held up in front of it, they had a little bit of a joke and a laugh at President Clinton and then they left, and I mean it took less than a minute and a half.

Now, it got reported, we had a chat to a few people afterwards, they said look, at previous conferences that he'd attended, he had voiced ?? is support for this Robin Hood Tax, and basically it is attacks in the US that asks people to take money from the big corporations and provide it for those who need help, be it civil society groups, be it charities, which, of course, the President is involved in, be it any other sort of group as well. So what the protest, it certainly did grab attention, but there at no stage did it seem at any stage that there was anyone to be really worried about.

COUTTS: And what was his message Cam?

COONEY: His message was very, very clear that there is some great improvements that have been in place since people started taking the HIV AIDS seriously and started putting money into it, but, of course, there is going to be a lot more work that has to be done.

He also made a very interesting point in relation to finance, and this is basically that corporate support and donor aid funding for some of the projects that are going on is starting to reduce. They've seen those figures come down, but he also spoke about some of the projects and some world ?? there was a very broad ranging address, there was none of the science, but, of course, that is being addressed by people who are very depth, deep into it. It was an address designed to spread the word and put the word out there that we need your help, that there is plenty to be done. Here's a little bit of what he had to say.

BILL CLINTON: Every year more than 2 million people are newly infected, about 4 people a minute and every year, a-million-and-a-half people still die from AIDS related illnesses, about 3 a minute. And despite the significant scale up to nearly 13 million people, millions more still need access under the 2013 WHO guidelines. Implementing these new guidelines could prevent millions of new infections and AID-related deaths. How will we get there? By meeting the new United Nations 90-90-90 targets. Ninety percent of people living with HIV knowing their diagnosis, 90 percent of the people diagnosed positive, receiving antiretroviral treatment, 90 percent of the people on treatment having an undetectable bile load by 2020. Perhaps the most challenging part of improving quality, will be delivering care to patients in a better way in rural and hard to reach areas. A number of governments and non-profits are testing these methods to make it easier for those who need the care to get it. How can we reduce the distance they travel to the clinic, the time they wait, the money they spend to get there, how can we launch programs that ensure that they feel supported in their communities, without the stigma that makes people still, after all these years drop out of care.

It is important to work with both local partners and donor governments and I'm very grateful here in Melbourne, for the government of Australia's continuing support of our efforts to answer these questions in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Vietnam. To meet the WHO guidelines and achieve the UN AIDS 90-90-90 Goals, we're going to have raise all the money we can and we're going to have to spend what we have as efficiently as possible. Scale of up to date has been driven by an enormous increase in resources, from 5 billion dollars in 2003, to 19.1 billion in 2013. Recent estimates suggest hopefully, the domestic resources devoted to this are increasing, but not so hopefully the growth in international donor spending is slowing. We will be forced regardless to be more efficient and innovative. We had to remind people that the people we lost on that aeroplane gave their entire lives to the proposition that our common humanity matters a hell of a lot more than our interesting differences.

The AIDS-free world that so many of you have worked for so long to build is just over the horizon and we, just have to step up the pace. Thankyou for you've done and will do.


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