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HIV infections and deaths fall

30th November 2009

The number of HIV-related deaths has fallen by more than 10% in the past five years, according to a new study.

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The study found that programmes to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS do make a difference to the spread of the disease.

The study also said that the number of new HIV infections had decreased by 15%, 10%, and 25% in sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and East Asia, respectively.

The new report also describes the creation of a new social networking site devoted to connecting the millions of people who live with HIV or work with AIDS response teams.

The site will give people access to reports, conference materials, multimedia, and even job listings.

The study also pointed out that HIV programmes were not designed to take care of older adults if they become infected, but focused rather on educating youth, and said that, in Swaziland, HIV infection among people over 25 had become an increasing problem.

Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said that evidence that the declines in infections were due to HIV prevention meant that people could step up the assembly of resources and programmes, making quicker progress still and saving more lives.

But he added that the findings also showed that prevention programming was often off the mark.

According to the report, global HIV infections rose from 31.1 million as of 2001 to 35.8 million in 2008, with more people living with the virus than ever before.

The researchers said that antiviral treatments had saved up to 2.9 million lives, including those of children whose mothers were infected with HIV, because antivirals helped protect against in vitrio transmission.

In Botswana and Southern Africa, 80% of people are now covered by treatment.

WHO director general Margaret Chan said that people should not let the momentum wane, and that they should make further effort to save even more lives.

Sidibé said that HIV may have a significant impact on maternal mortality, and that he hoped to develop a unified health approach bringing maternal and child health, HIV programmes, and tuberculosis programmes together.

The study also made mention of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where HIV/AIDS has become a sexually transmitted epidemic, though it once mainly infected drug users.

In Eastern Europe, however, the rate of infection has stabilised for the time being.

 

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