- New HIV infections have dropped by 17 percent over the past eight years, the 2009 AIDS epidemic update has revealed.
According to the report, since United Nations Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS was signed in 2001, the number of new infections in sub-Saharan Africa is approximately 15 percent lower, which is about 400,000 fewer infections in 2008.
Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said the decline in new infections could be attributed to HIV prevention mechanisms.
The report found that 33.4 million people are living with HIV worldwide, 2.7 million people were newly infected in 2008 and two million people died of AIDS related illnesses in 2008.
The data also shows that at 33.4 million, there are more people living with HIV than ever before as people are living longer due to the beneficial effects of antiretroviral therapy and population growth.
The report further shows that the number of AIDS-related deaths has declined by over 10 percent over the past five years as more people gained access to the life saving anti-retroviral treatment.
UNAIDS and WHO estimate that since the availability of effective treatment in 1996, some 2.9 million lives have been saved.
“International and national investment in HIV treatment scale-up have yielded concrete and measurable results,” said Dr Margaret Chan, director general of WHO.
According to the report, Antiretroviral therapy has also made a significant impact in preventing new infections in children as more HIV-positive mothers gain access to treatment preventing them from transmitting the virus to their children. Around 200,000 new infections among children have been prevented since 2001, the report said.
One of the significant findings of the report is that the impact of the AIDS response is high where HIV prevention and treatment programmes have been integrated with other health and social welfare services.
Early evidence shows that HIV may be a significant factor in maternal mortality. Research models using South African data estimate that about 50,000 maternal deaths were associated with HIV in 2008.
The report, released today is a Joint UNAIDS and WHO programme.
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