A new report by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) showed “unprecedented progress” in the global fight against the killing HIV/AIDS in 2011, a UN spokesman said here on Monday.
Martin Nesirky, the UN spokesman, told a daily news briefing here that the new UN report “found that there was unprecedented progress in science, political leadership and results for the AIDS response in 2011.”
“It also showed that new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have fallen to the lowest levels since the peak of the epidemic,” the spokesman said. “Nearly half of the world’s 14.2 million people eligible for treatment in low- and middle-income countries were accessing antiretroviral therapy in 2010, an increase of 1.35 million since the year before.”
Global efforts to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS are showing optimistic results, but transformative efforts are needed to accelerate progress, according to the latest report released today by the United Nations agency leading the fight against the disease, the report said.
The Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic 2011, produced by the UNAIDS, shows there has been a significant decrease in infection rates and HIV-related deaths, as well as an increase in the number of people who have access to treatment.
HIV infections rates are at their lowest since the peak of the epidemic in 1997, with 2.7 million new infections in 2010, mainly due to changes in young people’s sexual behavior, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
Twenty-one high-prevalence countries reported declines in HIV occurrence among people aged 15 to 24 last year, as opposed to 16 countries in 2009. The most pronounced falls happened in countries in sub-Saharan Africa such as Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Togo and Zimbabwe.
The report also shows an increase in the number of people living with HIV worldwide — now at an estimated 34 million, up 17 percent from 2001. Although the rise in this figure partly reflects new HIV infections, it is also a result of increased access to antiretroviral therapy, which has helped reduce AIDS-related deaths. Presently, 6.6 million people in low- and middle- income countries almost half of the people eligible for treatment — have access to antiretroviral therapy.
The report also estimates that a total of 2.5 million deaths have been averted in low and middle-income countries since 1995 due to antiretroviral therapy, with 700,000 AIDS-related deaths averted in 2010 alone.
“The world faces a clear choice: maintain current efforts and make incremental progress, or invest smartly and achieve rapid success in the AIDS response,” says the UNAIDS report, calling for an increase in smart strategies and commitment from countries.