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UN report points at decline in HIV infections

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 24 – A new United Nations Programme report on the AIDS epidemic indicates that the world has began to reverse the spread of HIV.

The report states that new HIV infections have fallen by nearly 20 percent in the last 10 years while AIDS related deaths are down by almost 20 percent in the last five years.

"The total number of people living with HIV is stabilising," the report states in part.

The report comes at a time when Kenya\’s HIV prevalence has gone up to 7.8 percent and aggressive measures including promotion of male circumcision have been scaled up to reduce the statistics.

National data indicates that in 2009, an estimated 80,000 people died of AIDS related ailments in Kenya.

The new report by UNAIDS however said that at least 56 countries had either stabilised or achieved significant declines in the rates of new HIV infections.

"AIDS epidemic is beginning to change course as the number of people newly infected with HIV is declining and AIDS- related deaths are decreasing together contributing to the stabilisation of the total number of people living with HIV in the world," it said.

The 2010 report on the global AIDS epidemic also shows that an estimated 2.6 million people become newly infected with HIV, nearly 20 percent fewer than the 3.1 million people infected in 1999.

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It reported that in 2009, 1.8 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses, nearly one-fifth lower than the 2.1 million people who died in 2004.

"We are breaking the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic with bold actions and smart choices," said Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director adding that "investments in the AIDS response are paying off, but gains are fragile, the challenge now is how we can all work to accelerate progress.

The report however highlights the urgent need to sustain and scale up what it terms as good investments and for countries to share the financial burden of the epidemic.

"Many countries are under-investing and need to increase their domestic financial commitments to sustain and scale up the AIDS response," it said.

UNAIDS estimates that a total of $15.9 billion was available for the AIDS response in 2009, $10billion short of what is needed in 2010.

"Declines in international investments will affect low-income countries the most," the report indicated.

Read the full report here.

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