HIV/AIDS deaths decrease in sub-Saharan Africa

A recent study shows a decline in the number of HIV cases and AIDS-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS reported a sharp drop in the number of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths in the region from 2004 to 2011. HIV deaths declined by 25 percent and AIDS deaths fell 32 percent.

Deaths from tuberculosis among those infected with HIV declined by 28 percent during the same period.

UNAIDS said the declines can be attributed to the success of screening programs and the increased availability of antiretroviral therapy. Screening campaigns focused on testing by healthcare providers using rapid tests and the increased use of home-based tests.

"Wider access to treatment is saving lives: since1995, antiretroviral therapy has added approximately nine million life-years in sub-Saharan Africa," the report said. "Available evidence continues to highlight the urgent need to improve retention rates for people enrolled in HIV treatment and care."

Stigma and discrimination, however, continue to hamper effective HIV responses in several sub-Saharan countries and women remain disproportionally impacted by the epidemic. They account for 58 percent of all those living with HIV in the region as of 2011, according to

Between 2009 and 2012, the number of newly infected children with HIV dropped by 24 percent. In six countries in the region, the number declined by 40-59 percent. In four countries - Angola, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau - the number of new HIV infections among children increased.