Clinton at AIDS Conference: ‘Every Woman Should Be Able To Decide When and Whether to Have Children’

By Penny Starr | July 23, 2012 | 4:23 PM EDT

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the XIX International Aids Conference, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

( – Speaking at the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “Every woman should be able to decide when and whether to have children. This is true whether she is HIV-positive or not.”

Women want to protect themselves from HIV, and they want “access to adequate health care,” including birth control, Clinton said, crediting the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) started by George W. Bush to address the spread of the disease in Africa and other locations around the world.

“And it will be no surprise to you to hear me say I want to highlight the particular role that women play,” Clinton said. “In Sub-Saharan Africa today, women account for 60 percent of those living with HIV.

“PEPFAR is part of our comprehensive effort to meet the health needs of women and girls, working across United States government and with our partners on HIV, maternal and child health, and reproductive health, including voluntary family planning and our newly launched Child Survival Call to Action,” Clinton said, referring to a program launched by the United States, the United Nations and other countries to “end child deaths.”

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“Every woman should be able to decide when and whether to have children,” Clinton said. “This is true whether she is HIV-positive or not.”

Clinton also referred to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s recent London Summit on Family Planning. A press release on the summit states its goal as giving access to contraceptives to “an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries by 2020.”

“And I agree with the strong message that came out of the London Summit on Family Planning earlier this month,” Clinton said. “There should be no controversy about this. None at all.”

The conference is taking place all week in the nation’s capitol and is described on its web site as a “premier gathering.”

“The International AIDS Conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic,” the web site states. “It is a chance to assess where we are, evaluate recent scientific developments and lessons learnt, and collectively chart a course forward.”