Washington to host international AIDS forum in 2012

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Monday that the International AIDS Society will host its 2012 conference in Washington, as the Obama administration lifts a decades-old ban on HIV-positive visitors.

"I'm pleased to announce that, with the repeal of the ban, the International AIDS Society will hold the 2012 international AIDS conference in Washington DC," Clinton said on the eve of World AIDS day.

"This conference will draw together 30,000 researchers, scientists, policy makers, health care providers, activists and others from around the world," Clinton said at the White House.

"On World AIDS Day, let us renew our commitment to ensuring that those infected and affected by HIV ... that all those who have joined together to fight this pandemic will someday live in a world where HIV/AIDS can be prevented and treated as a disease of the past," Clinton said.

In July, the South African city of Capetown hosted the 2009 conference. Vienna is due to host the conference in 2010 and Rome in 2011.

President Barack Obama announced at the end of October that his administration would overturn a controversial US policy that had been in place since 1987.

The ban on foreign nationals with HIV/AIDS visiting the United States will effectively be lifted early next year.

Obama's anti-AIDS efforts build on those of his predecessor George W. Bush, who won plaudits for them.

During Bush's two terms in office, the United States pumped nearly 19 billion dollars into fighting AIDS in poor countries, saving many people who had been denied therapy that only rich economies could afford.

The Obama administration will next year increase financing to prevent mothers from transmitting the HIV virus to their children, the White House said.

"Nearly 240,000 babies have been born free of HIV thanks to programs supported by the American people to prevent HIV-positive mothers from passing the virus on to their children," it said in a statement.

lc/jm

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