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OTRC: Ellen DeGeneres named U.S. Special Envoy for Global AIDS awareness

Ellen DeGeneres appears in a photo posted on her Twitter page. (twitter.com/THEELLENSHOW)

Popular talk show host and comedienne Ellen DeGeneres has been appointed the U.S. government's Special Envoy for Global AIDS awareness.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made the announcement on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at the National Institutes of Health as part of an address on AIDS and the HIV virus.

"I'm honored to have been chosen by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as Special Envoy for Global AIDS awareness," DeGeneres, 53, said in a government statement. "The fight against AIDS is something that has always been close to my heart. And I'm happy that I can use my platform to educate people and spread hope."

"Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go look up what 'envoy' means," she joked.

DeGeneres' self-titled talk show airs in national syndication and she has almost 14 million followers on social networking websites.

Clinton said that DeGeneres "is going to bring not only her sharp wit and her big heart, but her impressive TV audience and more than 8 million followers on Twitter, to raise awareness and support for this effort," adding: "I know we can look forward to many contributions from Ellen and her loyal fans across the globe."

The United States government is stepping up efforts to combat the AIDS epidemic, Clinton added.

"We recently granted more than $50 million to three of the world's leading academic institutions to develop rigorous studies that test what works in various settings," she said. "The United States ... will commit an additional $60 million to rapidly scale up combination prevention in parts of four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and to rigorously measure the impact."

Check out a video of Hillary Rodham Clinton's announcement below (at 2:35).

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