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HIV Rates Across the Globe are Slowly Declining: UN

Sep 23, 2013 03:37 PM EDT

HIV infection rates have plunged more than 50 percent among children and by a third among adults since 2001, according to a United Nations report released Monday.

New HIV infections among adults and children were estimated at 2.3 million in 2012, down 33 percent from 2001. Meanwhile, new HIV infections among children have been reduced to 260 000 in 2012, a reduction of 52% since 2001. Access to antiretroviral medication among low and middle-income countries was up about 20 percent to 9.7 million people since 2011, the report said.

AIDS-related deaths have also dropped by 30 percent since the peak in 2005 as access to antiretroviral treatment expands. The U.N. and other health agencies now advocate the speedy use of pills to help keep the virus under control. Not only can they keep patients from getting sick, but they lower the risk that an infected person will infect someone else.It works especially well in protecting newborns when their mothers are infected.

"As a result of sustained progress, the world has the potential to reach at least 90 percent of pregnant women living with HIV with antiretroviral interventions by 2015," the report reads.

In 2011, UN Member States agreed to a 2015 target of reaching 15 million people with HIV treatment. However, as countries scaled up their treatment coverage and as new evidence emerged showing the HIV prevention benefits of antiretroviral therapy, the World Health Organization set new HIV treatment guidelines, expanding the total number of people estimated to be in need of treatment by more than 10 million.

"Not only can we meet the 2015 target of 15 million people on HIV treatment-we must also go beyond and have the vision and commitment to ensure no one is left behind," said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS can be transmitted via blood, breast milk and by semen during sex, but can be kept in check with cocktails of drugs known as antiretroviral treatment or therapy.

Total resources available in 2012 were $18.9 billion (U.S.), up only slightly from $17.1 billion a year earlier, the report noted.

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