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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 23, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 47
HIV rate in children drops, UNAIDS says
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HIV rate in children drops, UNAIDS says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The rate of new HIV infections among children continues to drop, according to a new UNAIDS report published November 20. Worldwide, there were 330,000 new infections in children in 2011, down 24% from 2009.

UNAIDS issues regular reports monitoring progress against targets such as reducing sexual transmission of HIV by 50% by 2015, and providing antiretroviral therapy to all 15 million people who need it.

'We've moved from political rhetoric to programs being implemented and having an effect,' UNAIDS director Michel Sidibe told BBC News.

But the UNAIDS report also warns 'significant additional effort is required' if broader targets to tackle HIV/AIDS are to be achieved by 2015.

ADULT RATE HOLDS STEADY
The number of new HIV infections in adults has stayed more or less constant for the past four years - at about 2.5 million new cases a year. Overall, 34 million people around the world are now thought to have HIV.

The report adds that many more people with HIV now receive anti-retroviral medication, but UNAIDS estimates that 7 million people who need treatment still do not have it.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most severely affected part of the world, though some countries there have made impressive efforts in reducing new infections.

'Ethiopia, Malawi, and Botswana have achieved big reductions in new infections, showing they are capable of controlling the epidemic,' Sidibe said.

'Twenty-five countries have reduced the number of new infections by more than 50%.'

The report also shows significant increases in AIDS-related deaths in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

But some countries, Sidibe noted, 'aren't using the right strategies - Russia, for example, where infections are still growing.'

ENCOURAGING CIRCUMCISION
UNAIDS also called for scaling up efforts to offer circumcision to men, which trials have shown is effective in preventing some new infections. According to the new report, 'intensive efforts' are under way to find effective non-surgical approaches to circumcision so that trained nurses could carry out the procedure without scalpels or sutures.

'Scaling up HIV treatment to 15 million people from 8 million today is feasible and has the crucial triple benefit of reducing illness, reducing death, and reducing the risk of transmission,' Dr. Manica Balasegaram, executive director of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders Access Campaign, told BBC News.

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