New HIV infections reduced by 17 percent over 8 years

GENEVA and SHANGHAI — According to new data in the 2009 AIDS epidemic update, new HIV infections have been reduced by 17 percent over the past eight years, the World Health Organization and United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS announced Nov. 24.

Since 2001, when the U.N. Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS was signed, the number of new infections in sub-Saharan Africa is approximately 15 percent lower, which is about 400 000 fewer infections in 2008. In East Asia HIV incidence has declined by nearly 25 percent and in South and South East Asia by 10 percent in the same time period.

In Eastern Europe, after a dramatic increase in new infections among injecting drug users, the epidemic has leveled off considerably. However, in some countries there are signs that HIV incidence is rising again.

The report released Nov. 24 highlights that beyond the peak and natural course of the epidemic, HIV prevention programs are making a difference.

"The good news is that we have evidence that the declines we are seeing are due, at least in part, to HIV prevention," said Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS. "However, the findings also show that prevention programming is often off the mark and that if we do a better job of getting resources and programs to where they will make most impact, quicker progress can be made and more lives saved."