AIDS Cases Have Dropped By 1/5th Over A Decade

Thursday, November 25, 2010 Label:
The U.N. said on Tuesday that the number of new cases of HIV/AIDS has dropped by about one-fifth over the past decade, but millions of people are still missing out on major progress in prevention and treatment. 

UNAIDS, the U.N. agency that heads the international campaign against the disease, said that 2.6 million people contracted the HIV virus that causes AIDS in 2009.  That figure was down 19 percent from the 3.1 million recorded in 2001.

"Fifty-six nations around the world have stabilized or significantly reduced infections," UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe told journalists.

However, according to the agency, about half of the 60 million people who caught HIV/AIDS since the start of the pandemic 30 years ago have died.

Sidibe cautioned about the growing impact of prevention measures and medical treatment highlighted in the 2010 global report on AIDS epidemic. 

"We have halted and begun to reverse the epidemic. Fewer people are becoming infected with HIV and fewer people are dying from AIDS," he said.

"However we are not yet in a position to say 'mission accomplished'," he added in the report.

About 33.3 million people around the world were living with the HIV virus that causes AIDS at the end of 2009, compared to about 100,000 less than in 2008.

The UNAIDS chief heralded a "prevention revolution" in the pipeline, including a gel that could help women protect themselves.

The report showed that treatment has made huge steps in the past five years.

About 5.2 million people in poor countries had access to costly lifesaving anti-retroviral medicine in poor countries last year.

However, Sidibe warned that overall "demand is outstripping supply," while investment against HIV/AIDS stopped growing for the first time last year.

"If we stop financing, the five million people who are under treatment will start to die," he warned.

He said that about 10 million people who need anti-retrovirals do not have them, while "stigma, discrimination, and bad laws continue to place roadblocks for people living with HIV and people on the margins" of society."

According to the report, epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa were declining or stable.

AIDS-related deaths in that region have fallen by 20 percent over the past five years, while the number of people living with the HIV virus declined from an estimated 2.2 million to 1.8 million.
UNAIDS said that in Asia, HIV stabilized at a caseload of about 4.9 million, with "significant" progress on tackling mother-to-mother child transmission.

In India, Nepal and Thailand the rate of new infections of the deadly virus have fallen by over a quarter.

However, the annual death toll has grown by about 50,000 to 300,000 in Asia over a decade.  The pattern of disease within highly populated countries like China and Indonesia can vary significantly.

The most progression took place in North America and west and central Europe, with a 30 percent decline in the caseload over a decade.

The number of people in eastern Europe and central Asia living with the virus has almost tripled in the past decade to reach about 1.4 million. 

Russia and Ukraine account for nearly 90 percent of new infections in the region.
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