UNAIDS: Rate of new HIV infections drops by half in 25 countries
Volunteers in Taiwan join a human chain in the form of a red ribbon for HIV/AIDS for World Aids Day 2011.
November 20th, 2012
02:17 PM ET

UNAIDS: Rate of new HIV infections drops by half in 25 countries

New HIV infections have dropped more than 50% in 25 low- and middle-income countries, according to a new World AIDS Day report by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

There were 700,000 fewer new infections last year than in 2001, according to the report "Results."  More than half of the countries reporting fewer infections are in sub-Saharan Africa, the region with some of the highest number of HIV cases in the world.  Infection rates have dropped dramatically in Malawi (73%), Botswana (71%), Namibia (68%) Zambia (58% ), Zimbabwe (50%) and by 41% in Swaziland and South Africa, for example.

Along with these reductions, AIDS experts say the number of people getting antiretroviral treatment increased 63% in the past two years.  Sub-Saharan Africa treated a record 2.3 million people, and the number of people treated in China jumped 50% last year.

AIDS-related deaths dropped more than 25% over the last six years, and countries with some of the highest HIV rates are seeing the biggest drops in mortality.  There are also fewer, tuberculosis-related AIDS deaths are, according to the report, dropping 13% in the last two years.

"The pace of progress is quickening - what used to take a decade is now being achieved in 24 months," said Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS. "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."

Those goals, called the Millennium Development Goals, were established in 2000 when 189 countries pledged to accomplish eight goals - including eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and reducing child mortality - by 2015.  Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases was another one of those goals.

The report found more than 81 countries have increased their own domestic investments in treatment and prevention by 50% over the last 10 years.  Currently nearly half of all international HIV aid comes from the United States; along with the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the United States provides much of the treatment dollars.

In the last two years, half of the new infection rate reductions have been in children, said Dr. Bernhard Schwartlander, director for evidence, strategy and results at UNAIDS.  In fact, in the last 24 months, the number of children newly infected with HIV fell 40% in six countries.

"It is becoming evident that achieving zero new HIV infections in children is possible," said Sidibé. "I am excited that far fewer babies are being born with HIV.  We are moving from despair to hope."

Last year, more than 34 million people around the world were living with HIV.  A total of 2.5 million people became newly infected, and 1.7 million people died.  According to the report, men who have sex with men, intravenous drug users and sex workers are still disproportionately affected by the disease.

Even though the news is encouraging, Sidibé says work remains to be done.

"UNAIDS will focus on supporting countries to accelerate access to HIV testing and treatment.  Now that we know that rapid and massive scale-up is possible, we need to do more to reach key populations with crucial HIV services," said Sidibé.

World AIDS Day is December 1.

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Danjuma K. Adda

    This is good to hear, kudos to all groups partners and agencies working all over the world to mitigate the rate of HIV pandemic.My prayer is for my continent Africa and country Nigeria to witness the drop in new HIV infections across all segments of the population.
    May God bless all donor agencies and those committed to this cause, especially the USA/Global Fund etc, for providing funding leading to the massive scale up of activities and interventions leading to this cheery news.

    November 20, 2012 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Hendrik Verwoerd

    I pray that all africans will ask God for help in changing their situation. I pray that they realise the importance of a good education and good hygiene. Education and female empowerment on the continent is of paramount importance if they are ever to tackle the unbridled population expolosion. They can only improve their lot in life if they make the concious decision to have fewer babies. Let us hope they will see the light soon.

    November 20, 2012 at 19:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeff

      Having beliefs in things like GOD are exactly why places like Africa cannot break the cycle of disease, poverty and violence. Instead of seeing reality and doing something about it, they depend upon something imaginary that their culture has tried to convince them has an effect upon things. People laugh at the belief in some African countries that having intercourse with a baby cures HIV........just how is that any different than thinking that GOD can change something? The only reason why believe in such and follow such is because they've been told to do so....without any tangible evidence whatsoever as to why. Think about it.

      November 21, 2012 at 02:18 | Report abuse |
  3. VampireJack

    The reason why the numbers are increasing in Africa – why, it's because so many have left and come to the West as immigrants and are spreading it here instead.

    November 21, 2012 at 03:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • VampireJack

      Of course I meant "decreasing" in Africa.
      Damn, it's still early over here...

      November 21, 2012 at 03:18 | Report abuse |
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