HIV Infections On Decline Worldwide, Says UN


The number of people newly infected with HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS, is declining, according to a report released by the UN programme for HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

The report released on Tuesday at the UN in New York showed  that at least 2.6 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2009.

The figure was 20 percent less than those infected 10 years ago.

From 2001 to 2009, the rate of new HIV infections decreased by more than 25 percent in at least 56 countries around the world, including 34 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the report said.

It noted that of the five countries with the largest epidemics in the region, four countries – Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe – had reduced rates of new HIV infections by more than 25 percent.

It said the epidemic had stabilised in Nigeria, adding that the number of people receiving anti retroviral therapy in the country increased from 238,659 in 2008 to 302,973 in 2009.

On a global scale, the report said the number of AIDS related deaths had also decreased to 1.8 million in 2009 compared to 2.1 million in 2004.

It, however, noted that Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region most affected by the epidemic with 69 percent of all new HIV infections.

The UN estimates that there are 33.3 million people living with HIV in the world while young people are leading the HIV prevention revolution.

“The rate of new infections amongst young people has dropped by more than 25 percent in 15 most affected countries as the young have adopted safer sexual behaviours also,” the report said.

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said investments in prevention and treatment programmes were paying off, but added that more work needed to be done.

UNAIDS, however, warned that funding for the global HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programme was going down and if not checked may reverse the gains already made.

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