UN report says AIDS cases dropping

New York- UN (PANA) -- A UN report has revised downwards by 7 million its estimates of how many people are infected with the AIDS virus, from nearly 40 million to 33 million.
A report released in Geneva by UNAIDS, the joint UN agency on HIV/AIDS, stated that revised estimates on HIV in India accounted for a large part of the decrease.
The agency admitted it overestimated how many people were infected with the incurable virus, and said better methods of collecting data showed it was not quite as common as feared.
"The single biggest reason for this reduction was the intensive exercise to assess India's HIV epidemic, which resulted in a major revision of that country's estimates,'' the report said.
PANA learnt that after originally estimating some 5.
7 million people were infected in India, the UN reduced that estimate by more than half to 2.
5 million.
But the numbers nonetheless show the epidemic is overwhelming and that efforts to fight HIV must still be stepped up, UNAIDS said in the report.
"These improved data present us with a clearer picture of the AIDS epidemic, one that reveals both challenges and opportunities,'' UNAIDS Executive Director, Peter Piot, said in a statement.
"Unquestionably, we are beginning to see a return on investment, new HIV infections and mortality are declining and the prevalence of HIV levelling.
"But with more than 6,800 new infections and over 5,700 deaths each day due to AIDS, we must expand our efforts in order to significantly reduce the impact of AIDS worldwide,'' Piot said.
The agency also said the new numbers suggested some 33.
2 million people were infected with the virus that causes AIDS, with 30.
8 million of them adults and 2.
5 million children.
UNAIDS estimated that 1.
7 million people were newly infected in sub-Saharan Africa this year, a significant reduction since 2001.
But, it said Africa remained by far the continent hardest hit by AIDS, with 22.
5 million people infected with HIV.
"Eight countries in this region now account for almost one-third of all new HIV infections and AIDS deaths globally,'' it noted.
The number of new HIV infections each year likely peaked in the late 1990s at 3 million and was estimated at 2.
5 million for 2007,'' it also said.
"This reflects natural trends in the epidemic, as well as the result of HIV prevention efforts.
Of the total difference in the estimates published in 2006 and 2007, 70 per cent are due to changes in six countries namely Angola, India, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe," the report said.
"In both Kenya and Zimbabwe, there is increasing evidence that a proportion of the declines is due to a reduction of the number of new infections which is, in part, due to a reduction in risky behaviors,'' it added.

22 november 2007 10:29:00

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