The National, Monday 05th December 2011
By SHIRLYN BELDEN
NEW HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths in the world have decreased to the lowest levels since the peak of the epidemic, UNAIDS reports.
The 2011 UNAIDS World AIDS Day report showed that
new HIV infections have been reduced by 21% since 1997.
AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 21% since 2005 on a world scale.
According to UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation, it is estimated that 6.6 million of the 14.2 million people eligible for treatment in low and middle income countries were accessing the antiretroviral therapy last year, an increase of 1.35 million since 2009.
UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe said: “There is a massive scale up in access to HIV treatment which has had a dramatic effect on the lives of people everywhere.”
The report said the significant decline in new HIV infections was due to changes in sexual behaviour, increase of male circumcision and increase in access to effective HIV treatments.
Young people in particular have reduced the number of sexual partners and increased condom use.
Pregnant mothers living with HIV were able to access effective treatment to prevent passing the virus to their children when born.
The report confirmed early signs of significant impact the HIV treatments were having on people reducing the number of new HIV infections and related deaths.
The report said there were more people receiving HIV treatments than before – which had reduced HIV transmission.
However, it said 60% of people eligible for treatment in the Asia-Pacific region including PNG still did not receive it due to frequent stock out of crucial drugs.
This has reduced the impact the treatment could have had on the epidemic in the country.