2008-07-30 02:48:48 GMT 2008-07-30 10:48:48 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
UNITED NATIONS, July 29 (Xinhua) -- There have been significant gains in preventing new HIV infections in a number of heavily affected countries, but the AIDS epidemic is not over in any part of the world, according to a new UN report released Tuesday.
In Rwanda and Zimbabwe, changes in sexual behavior have been followed by declines in the number of new HIV infections, and condom use is increasing among young people with multiple partners in many countries, said the 2008 report on the global AIDS epidemic, produced by the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
Another encouraging sign is that young people in seven of the most affected countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia, are waiting longer to have sexual intercourse.
From 2005 to 2007 the percentage of HIV positive pregnant women receiving antiretroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission went up from 14 percent to 33 percent. The number of new infections among children fell from 410,000 to 370,000.
"The overall finding of the report is that we've made enormous progress, that there are real results," UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot told journalists, as he launched the report in New York." We've achieved more in the fight against AIDS in the last two years than in the preceding 20 years."
But he stressed that "gains in saving lives by preventing new infections and providing treatment to people living with HIV must be sustained over the long term."
"Short-term gains should serve as a platform for reinvigorating combination HIV prevention and treatment efforts and not spur complacency," he said.
Although from 2001 new HIV infections declined from 3 million to 2.7 million in 2007, rates of new HIV infections are rising in many countries such as China, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Ukraine, and Vietnam, the report noted.
Increases in new HIV infections are also being seen in some older epidemics and HIV incidence is increasing in countries such as Germany, Britain and Australia.
There are now an estimated 33 million people living with HIV worldwide, with 2 million estimated to have died from AIDS last year. Also, AIDS continues to be the leading cause of death in Africa.
The report was launched ahead of the International AIDS Conference in Mexico slated for next week. This event will bring together leaders, policymakers, academics, activists, community groups and other key stakeholders to review lessons learnt and build momentum towards achieving universal access goals by 2010 and the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
HIV responses require long-term sustained financing, and as more people go on treatment and live longer, budgets for HIV will have to increase over the next few decades, the report said.
Donors will have to provide the majority of the funding required for the AIDS responses in low- and some middle-income countries, even as domestic spending on HIV has increased in these countries, it said.