UNAIDS report shows gains in HIV/AIDS prevention

New York- UN (PANA) -- The number of people killed by AIDS-related deaths reduced for a second straight year in 2007 after rising for more than two decades, due t o intensified global efforts to fight the scourge, according to a UN agency repo r t released here Tuesday.
PANA reports that 2008 Report on the global AIDS epidemic was produced by the Jo int UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
It said the report was the most comprehensive review of the epidemic to date wit h 147 countries reporting data on HIV.
It noted, among other things, that the combined efforts of governments, civil so ciety and affected communities could make a difference in saving lives.
"The AIDS epidemic is far from over, but appears to have levelled off with more people getting life-extending drugs and the number of new HIV infections falling in many places,'' UNAIDS stated.
The agency disclosed that global AIDS deaths numbered about two million in 2007, down from 2.
1 million in 2006.
"AIDS deaths peaked in 2005 at 2.
2 million after a steady climb since the diseas e was first identified in the early 1980s,'' it said.
According to UNAIDS: "A six-fold increase in financing for HIV programmes in low - and middle-income countries (from) 2001-2007 is beginning to bear fruits, as g a ins in lowering the number of AIDS deaths and preventing new infections are appa r ent in many countries''.
"Progress remains uneven, however, and the epidemic's future is still uncertain, underscoring the need for intensified action to move towards universal access t o HIV prevention, treatment, care and support," the report stated.
The UN agency also said that "in 2007, about 33 million people were infected wit h Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)''.
HIV is most often spread through sexual contact or injection drug use.
The total number of people living with HIV infections continues to inch higher a s more people in hard-hit regions like sub-Saharan Africa, with two-thirds of al l global cases, receive drugs that help them live longer, the report showed.
It also said that new HIV infection rates were basically the same in 2007 as in 2006 -- about 2.
7 million people.
It cited a big increase in the number of people receiving AIDS drugs in low- and middle-income countries, numbering about 3 million.
But, the report said that many more still lacked access.
"There are still five new infections for every two people who are newly added on treatment.
So clearly, we are not pushing back the epidemic enough," Dr.
Paul D e Lay of UNAIDS said.
The report disclosed that rates of new infections were rising in many countries, including China, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Ukrain e and Vietnam, and even rich nations such as Germany, Britain and Australia.
Meanwhile, The Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Thoraya Oba id, agreed that HIV prevention efforts must be intensified, particularly among y o ung people.
"We will not be able to beat the HIV epidemic without a sustained success in red ucing HIV infections, especially among young people,'' she said, noting that 45 p er cent of all the new adult infections last year were among young people aged 1 5 to 24.
"Despite the progress cited by the report in terms of increased condom use among young people and the fact that more of them are waiting longer to have sex, the y still remain vulnerable because many of them lack accurate and comprehensive in f ormation on how to protect themselves from infection,'' she said.
The report is issued by UNAIDS every two years and this one came barely six days ahead of the 17th International AIDS Conference, set to begin in Mexico City 3 A ugust.
PANA learnt that the event will bring together world leaders, policy makers, aca demics and activists to review lessons learnt and build momentum towards achieving univ ersal access goals by 2010 and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The MDGs includes the target of halting the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015.

30 july 2008 16:08:00

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