21 November 2012

UN optimistic about having HIV infections numbers fall

The number of new Aids infections continues to fall, a UN report said, with the goal of halving the number of annual HIV infections by 2015 within reach.


The number of new AIDS infections continues to fall, a UN report said, with the goal of halving the number of annual HIV infections by 2015 within reach.

In the decade to 2011, the annual number HIV infections dropped 22% to 2.5 million, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS) said in Geneva.

UN member states committed last year to halving transmission through sex and drug use by 2015, and to eliminate infections of children.

"The pace of progress is quickening - what used to take a decade is now being achieved in 24 months," UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe said. "It is the proof that with political will and follow through we can reach our shared goals by 2015."

Focus on measures

The report said that in sub-Saharan Africa infections fell by a quarter. The region is home to 79% of the global total of people who carry the virus.

The number of people with access to virus suppressing drugs rose 59% in the region in the past two years.

While fewer children contract HIV, the virus that causes Aids, and more people receive the medicines they need, the UN agency also reported some worrying trends.

In North Africa and the Middle East, the annual infection rate rose by more than a third between 2001 and 2011. In some central Asian countries, the rate went up by a quarter.

To achieve the 2015 targets, governments need to focus on measures such as testing, producing medicines in their country and promoting circumcision as a preventive step, UNAIDS said.

(Sapa, November 2012)

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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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