New HIV Infections Down in Sub-Saharan Africa. 19/9/10
East African Community member states have made good progress in increasing access to primary education.
Pretoria — Twenty-two countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have reduced new HIV infections by more than 25 percent, according to new UNAIDS data on the progress made towards Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6.
The data released ahead of the United Nations Summit on the MDGs from 20 to 22 September 2010, showed that countries with the largest epidemics in Africa including Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, are leading in the reduction of new HIV infections. MGD 6 aims to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Between 2001 and 2009, according to the data, the number of new HIV infections steadily fell or stabilised in most parts of the world.
"We are seeing real progress towards MDG 6, for the first time change is happening at the heart of the epidemic, in places where HIV was stealing away dreams, we now have hope," said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé.
The data showed that there are now 5.2 million people on HIV treatment and that AIDS deaths have dropped significantly since the widespread availability of treatment. There were 200 000 fewer deaths in 2008 than in 2004.
"Young people are leading the prevention revolution by choosing to have sex later, having fewer multiple partners and using condoms, resulting in significantly fewer new HIV infections in many countries highly affected by AIDS."
Among adults, male condom use has doubled in the past five years and tradition is giving space to pragmatism as communities embrace male circumcision.
The research showed that male circumcision has the potential to reduce HIV infection among men by nearly 60 percent and new HIV prevention research reported efficacy in a microbicide controlled and initiated by women.
Sidibé noted that many continents like Asia, where the epidemic is concentrated among high-risk populations, are showing good progress in the AIDS response with China scaling up access to harm reduction programmes for people who use drugs.
Data from its national sentinel surveillance showed that the percentage of drug users who used sterile injection equipment the last time they injected drugs increased from 40.5 percent in 2007 to 71.5 percent in 2009.
"South Africa is rapidly accelerating efforts to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, and the new HIV infections among adults and young people have dropped by more than 25 percent and record numbers of women are accessing treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV from previous years.
"The country has also significantly increased its domestic investments for the AIDS response in the current fiscal year," Sidibé said.
However, the data showed that in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which continue to have expanding HIV epidemics, and in several high-income countries, there has been a resurgence of HIV infections among men who have sex with men.
It also showed that in many low- and middle-income countries, the lack of resources is seriously hampering the scale up of programmes.
Sidibé said that to sustain the gains that have been made, further investments in research and development are needed, not only for a small wealthy minority, but also focused to meet the needs of the majority.
"At this turning point flat-lining or reductions in investments will set-back the AIDS response and threaten the world's ability to reach MDG 6," said Mr Sidibé, adding that investing in the fight against HIV and AIDS is a shared responsibility between development partners and national governments.
The UNAIDS recommended that national governments allocate between 0.5 percent and 3 percent of government revenue on HIV, depending on the HIV prevalence of the country.