Leadership (Abuja)

Africa: HIV Infection - UN Report Records Reduction in Africa

A UN report says there has been reduction of more than 50 per cent in the rate of new HIV infections across 25 countries in Africa.

The report made available at the UN Headquarters in New York on Tuesday said that the reduction was an indication that unprecedented acceleration response to HIV issues had produced results.

"We are scaling up faster and smarter than ever before; it is the proof that with political will and follow-through we can reach our shared goals by 2015," the report quoted the Executive Director of Joint UN Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), Michel Sidibe as saying.

It said that UNAIDS increased HIV treatment by 75 per cent in the last two years by ensuring that 1.7 million people had access to life-saving treatment.

According to the report, in some of the countries which have the highest HIV prevalence, the rates of new HIV infections have been reduced drastically since 2001.

It explained that it reduced by 73 per cent in Malawi, 71 per cent in Botswana, 68 per cent in Namibia, 58 per cent in Zambia, 50 per cent in Zimbabwe and 41 per cent in South Africa and Swaziland.

The report added that sub-Saharan Africa also recorded low AIDS-related deaths in the last six years and increased the number of people on antiretroviral treatment by 59 per cent in the last two years.

It also revealed that countries were assuming shared responsibility by increasing domestic investments in the response to the virus, adding that more than 81 countries increased such investments by 50 per cent between 2001 and 2011.

It stated that in Burundi, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Togo and Zambia, the number of children newly infected with HIV fell by 40 per cent between 2009 and 2011.

"Antiretroviral therapy has emerged as a powerful force for saving lives,", the report noted, adding that in the last 24 months, the number of people accessing treatment had increased by 63 per cent globally.

It further said that in sub-Saharan Africa, 2.3 million people had access to treatment, while China had increased the number of people on HIV treatment by nearly 50 per cent in the last year alone.

The report also said that there were more than half a million fewer deaths in 2011 than in 2005, with the largest drop in AIDS-related deaths in countries where HIV had the strongest grip.

In the area of investments in the global AIDS response, the report revealed that countries were increasing their investments in spite of difficult economic climate.

NAN

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