UN report says global AIDS response showing results

New York, US (PANA) - A new UN report released Friday said the global response to AIDS had achieved significant results since the first case was reported 30 years ago, with a record number of people having access to treatment and rates of new HIV infections falling by nearly 25 per cent.

The report, entitled: "AIDS at 30: Nations at the crossroads'', which was published by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), came ahead of a three-day high-level meeting at the UN headquarters next week focusing on efforts to combat the epidemic.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, who unveiled the report at a news conference in New York, said: "Thirty years ago when scientists first identified AIDS, it was mysterious, deadly and spreading and now three decades on, more and more people have access to treatment."

She also said that, "the infections are declining and greater numbers of pregnant women living with HIV are keeping their babies free of infection."

She stated that, "next week’s high-level meeting is our chance to chart a new, bold path,” adding that the target is clear – zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths."

Also speaking, Michel Sidibe, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, said: "We have come a long way in our fight against the scourge."

Sidibe noted that about 6.6 million people received antiretroviral therapy in low- and middle-income countries at the end of 2010, a 22-fold increase since 2001.

"Also, a record 1.4 million people started life-saving treatment in 2010 more than any year before and at least 420,000 children were receiving antiretroviral therapy by the end of 2010, a 50 per cent increase since 2008,'' he said.

Sidibe also said that with access to treatment, "AIDS has moved from what was effectively a death sentence to a chronic disease'', adding that , "new HIV infections are now declining at a significant rate, by 25 per cent in the last 10 years."

He also said that, "access to treatment will transform the AIDS response in the next decade. We must invest in accelerating access and finding new treatment options."

According to the report: "The rate of new HIV infections fell by more than 50 per cent in India and by more than 35 per cent in South Africa.

"Both countries have the largest number of people living with HIV on their continents,'' it stated.

At the same time, the report noted that significant challenges remain.

"The latest estimates from UNAIDS shows that 34 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2010 and nearly 30 million have died from AIDS-related causes over the past 30 years,'' it said.

"Despite expanded access to antiretroviral therapy, a major treatment gap remains. At the end of 2010, nine million people who were eligible for treatment did not have access.

"Also treatment access for children is lower than for adults – only 28 per cent of eligible children were receiving antiretroviral therapy in 2009, compared to 36 per cent coverage for people of all ages,'' the report noted.

It, however, said: "While the rate of new HIV infections has declined globally, the total number of HIV infections remains high, at about 7,000 per day.

``In addition, gender inequalities remain a major barrier to effective HIV responses. HIV is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age, and more than a quarter of all new global HIV infections are among young women between the ages of 15 and 24,'' it said.

The report further said that, "investments in the HIV response in low- and middle-income countries rose nearly 10-fold between 2001 and 2009, from US$1.6 billion to US$15.9 billion. However, in 2010, international resources for HIV declined."
-0- PANA AA/BOS 3June2011

03 june 2011 19:48:44

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