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Annual UNAIDS Report Details Progress, Challenges In Global HIV/AIDS Response

The number of new HIV infections “and the number of AIDS-related deaths have been dramatically reduced [worldwide], thanks to expanding access to treatment, the United Nations said in a report issued on Monday,” Reuters reports (9/23). “Worldwide, 2.3 million people were newly infected with the AIDS-causing virus last year, compared with 3.4 million in 2001,” according to the report, Bloomberg notes, adding, “AIDS-related deaths fell 30 percent to 1.6 million last year from the peak in 2005, the Geneva-based agency said” (Bennett, 9/23). “There has been an impressive 34 percent drop in new infections [among adults] in sub-Saharan Africa since 2001, although the biggest drop is in the Caribbean, where it has been 49 percent,” The Guardian’s health editor Sarah Boseley writes in her “Global Health” blog, adding, “New infections are still on the rise in Eastern Europe, however, and in Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East” (9/23).

“The report says the most striking results in combating HIV … are to be found among children, for which the number of new HIV infections has been cut by 52 percent since 2001,” according to VOA News. In addition, “[t]he report notes that some 9.7 million people in low and middle-income countries were accessing antiretroviral therapy by the end of 2012,” the news service notes (Schlein, 9/23). “Significant results have also been achieved toward meeting the needs of tuberculosis (TB) patients living with HIV, as TB-related deaths among people living with HIV have declined by 36 percent since 2004, the report said,” Xinhua reports. “However, the report noted slow progress was made in ensuring the respect of human rights, securing access to HIV services for people most at risk of HIV infection, particularly people who use drugs, and in preventing violence against women and girls,” the news service adds (9/23). “Gender inequality, punitive laws and discriminatory actions are continuing to hamper national responses to HIV and concerted efforts are needed to address these persistent obstacles to the scale up of HIV services for people most in need,” a UNAIDS press release states (9/23).