New York, US (PANA) - The Director of Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Ms. Sheila Tlou, on Thursday said Eastern and Southern Africa, the region most affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, was making great strides to scale up access to prevention and treatment services.
Tlou said in a statement obtained by PANA here that the two regions are making progress by focusing on behavioural change and prevention of mother-to-child transmission.
"Of the estimated 34 million people living with HIV/AIDS across the world, almost three quarters live in Eastern and Southern Africa," she said. “We have to now focus on making sure that we scale up voluntary medical male circumcision, behaviour change, and all those interventions to make sure that we reduce infections."
She said even in South Africa, where an estimated 5.6 million people are infected, the government had scaled up prevention measures and is politically committed to turning the tide against the epidemic, including reducing mother-to-child transmission (MTCT)".
The UNAIDS official also said that a lot had been done in countries in Eastern and Southern Africa on mother-to-child infections.
“Our services to prevent mother-to-children transmission are more than 77 per cent – that region is leading in terms of scaling up of services,” Tlou said.
She, however, said that for a country to succeed in reducing transmission of the HIV virus to newly-born infants, MTCT coverage must be at least 90 per cent.
"And we know it can be done, in Botswana we brought down mother-to-children infections from 40 per cent to 4 per cent in less than 4 years,” she said.
"The majority of the estimated 15 million HIV-infected people eligible for anti-retroviral treatments also reside in Eastern and Southern Africa, and it is crucial that access to treatment there also be scaled up.
"Some 4.2 million area already receiving treatment, while 3.4 need to be put on anti-retroviral drugs,'' she said.
-0- PANA AA/SEG 20Jan2012