UN praises SA for major gains

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Anso Thom

Health-e News Service

South Africa has received global recognition for achieving a significant reduction in the number of children newly infected with HIV.

The UN Joint Programme on HIV/Aids launched the 2012 Global Epidemic Report yesterday and praised South Africa for major gains, with the number of children newly infected with HIV declining by between 40 and 59 percent from 2009 to 2011.

International efforts have focused on ending new infections among children and reducing the number of women living with HIV who die from pregnancy-related causes.

According to the report 330 000 children were infected with HIV in 2011, almost halving the rate since 2003 when almost 600 000 children were infected. More than 90 percent of the children who acquired HIV infection in 2011 live in sub- Saharan Africa, where the number of children newly infected fell by 24 percent from 2009 to 2011.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains most severely affected, with nearly one in every 20 adults living with HIV and accounting for 69 percent of the people living with HIV worldwide. Worldwide, the number of people (adults and children) acquiring HIV infection in 2011 (2.5 million) was 20 percent lower than in 2001.

The sharpest declines in the numbers of people acquiring HIV infection since 2001, have occurred in the Caribbean (42 percent) and sub-Saharan Africa (25 percent). In 39 countries, the incidence of HIV infection among adults fell by more than 25 percent from 2001 to 2011. A total of 23 of the countries with steep declines in HIV incidence are in sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of people acquiring HIV infection in 2011 (1.8 million) was 25 percent lower than in 2001 (2.4 million).

However, despite these gains, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 71 percent of the adults and children newly infected in 2011.

Access to ARVs also increased significantly, reaching eight million people by the end of 2011 – a 20-fold increase since 2003.

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