News / Africa

    UNAIDS: Sharp Drop in New Infections

    A woman is given a free HIV/AIDS test in Lira, northern Uganda, September 9, 2007.
    A woman is given a free HIV/AIDS test in Lira, northern Uganda, September 9, 2007.
    Joe DeCapua
    The latest Global Report on HIV/AIDS says the number of new infections continues to fall, with the sharpest declines in the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa.

    The UNAIDS report says overall there are about 34 million people living with the disease, nearly 70 percent of them in sub-Saharan Africa. The region remains the “most severely affected with nearly one in twenty adults living with HIV.” The next hardest hit regions are the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.


    UNAIDS also says there’s “cause for concern” over the number of newly infected people in the Middle East and North Africa. The MENA region traditionally has had very low numbers of HIV infections. But the report says there’s a trend upward. New infections have increased 35 percent since 2001.

    On the positive side, the number of new infections worldwide has fallen sharply since 2001 to about two and a half million people per year.

    “Today we are reporting a more than 50 percent drop in new infections across 25 countries since 2001. Thirteen of these countries are in sub-Saharan Africa, the region that’s by far the most affected by HIV – a 73 percent reduction in Malawi – and Botswana, a 71 percent drop. I mean these are very, very impressive figures,” said Bernhard Schwartlander, UNAIDS’ director of evidence, innovation and policy.

    South Africa – the country with the largest number of infections – has shown a 41 percent reduction since 2001. At the same time, treatment in South Africa was scaled up by 75 percent over the last two years.

    “We are really seeing a quickening in the pace of progress over the past two years. We have achieved in the past two years what took us before a whole decade. We have seen in the past two years a 60 percent increase in the number of people accessing life-saving treatment. Five countries in the region have achieved more than 80 percent coverage of HIV treatment. That is Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda, Swaziland and Zambia,” he said.

    Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, UNAIDS says China has scaled up treatment by 50 percent over the past year.

    Schwartlander also said great progress has been shown regarding newborns.

    “In the last two years, half of all the reductions in HIV infections have been among children. In six countries – Burundi, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Togo and Zambia – the number of children newly infected with HIV has fallen at least 40 percent in the past two years,” he said.

    Countries that had infection rates greater than 25 percent between 2001 and 2011 include Bangladesh, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, Republic of Moldova and Sri Lanka.

    About 1.7 million people died of AIDS-related causes in 2011, showing a continued decline. The downward trend began in the mid-2000s with the increased availability of antiretroviral drugs in developing countries.

    HIV/AIDS is primarily a sexually transmitted disease. Recent studies have shown that antiretroviral drug use can help prevent initial infections, and there’s very promising research regarding microbicide gels. Nevertheless, UNAIDS says that “the current pace of progress is insufficient to reach the global goal of halving sexual transmission by 2015.”

    The report describes condom use as a “critical element of combination prevention.” However, it says surveys indicate declines of condom use in Uganda, Benin, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. Knowledge of condom use, especially among young women, remains low in several countries with high infection rates.

    Male circumcision has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection. However, UNAIDS says there’s been limited progress in scaling up voluntary medical male circumcision.

    Mitchell Warren, head of the advocacy group AVAC, reacted to the report, and said, “It’s a great report and it’s great news on the one hand. I think that it’s a question of where do we go next?”

    Warren said the 50 percent reduction in new infections must be taken in perspective.

    “While that 50 percent decline is terrific, it’s over a decade. All this talk about ending the epidemic or about an AIDS-free generation – we need to pick up the pace. If we’re really serious about achieving the end of the epidemic, getting a 50 percent reduction over a decade, while good news, is not the pace we need to be on to end the epidemic,” he said.

    The head of AVAC said what now takes two years to achieve needs to be accomplished in one year.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora