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UN AIDS report brings good news and bad news

30 November 2012

by a staff reporter


Not to be shared: a new UN report on AIDS shows
a fall in infections

Not to be shared: a new UN report on AIDS shows
a fall in infections

A UN report released in time for World Aids Day tomorrow suggests that progress in the fight against the disease is "uneven".

The annual UNAIDS report on the epidemic states that, since 2001, the number of people infected in the Middle East and North Africa has increased by more than 35 per cent. There has also been a rise in new infections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The increase is in middle-income countries, where development assistance is being reduced, it says. But in poor countries there has been a 50-per-cent reduction in the rate of new HIV infections.

In some of the countries that have the highest HIV prevalence in the world, rates of new infections have been cut dramatically since 2001: by 73 per cent in Malawi; 71 per cent in Botswana; 50 per cent in Zimbabwe; and 41 per cent in South Africa and Swaziland.

"The pace of progress is quickening: what used to take a decade is now being achieved in 24 months," the executive director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, said.

The UN has launched a new initiative to reduce HIV deaths caused by tuberculosis. TB and HIV services will be integrated in the most heavily affected countries, to try to reduce deaths by half.

In the UK, the International AIDS/ HIV Alliance praised the Government's financial commitment to eradicating the disease, but urged it to exert its political influence.

The Guardian reported this week that in countries such as Malawi, faith had a significant influence on the treatment of AIDS: some sufferers had stopped taking their medication after church leaders told them that they had been healed.

In a video message released by Lambeth Palace on Friday, the Archbishop of Canterbury says: "HIV/AIDS is regularly both the cause and the result of gender-based violence. It results often from rape, from unacceptable and degrading sexual practices. It's the result of attitudes towards women that demean them, that deny their human dignity. . . HIV/AIDS is also the cause of violence; it's the cause of stigma and rejection, and suspicion.'

"I believe it's crucial for governments, NGOs, [and] civil society agencies worldwide, to keep their eyes firmly on the connection between. . . the challenges around HIV, and the challenges around gender equality."


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