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Durban - New HIV infections in South Africa have fallen by a third since 2004, according to a report to be handed to Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Friday.

Between 2004 and 2012, the number of new HIV infections fell from an estimated 540 000 to 370 000, shows the report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids, commonly known as UNAids.

“The general message is that it's good news,” UNAids country co-ordinator Dr Catherine Sozi told reporters in Durban.

She said the figures were compiled from a variety of sources, including the 2011 census and surveys.

The number of Aids deaths fell by 30 percent from 330 000 in 2004 to 240 000 in 2012.

Sozi said government's increased roll-out of the antiretroviral therapy programme had averted an estimated 780,000 deaths. Most of these were in KwaZulu-Natal, the epicentre of the pandemic.

An estimated 2.7 million people receive antiretroviral drugs in South Africa, making it the largest ARV programme in the world, according to Sozi. - Sapa