By Chioma OBINNA & Emmanuel ELEBEKE
AS Nigeria joins the world to celebrate World AIDS Day, the United Nations has said that the number of new HIV infections and deaths from AIDS are falling globally.
IN a new statistics released by the world body on its programme on HIV and AIDS, it said there are now signs the epidemic is declining, saying that the stigma and discrimination have continued to cause problems for the estimated 33m people living with HIV.
According to the report, there were 2.6m new HIV infections last year, which is almost 20 percent since the peak of the Aids epidemic in 1999, adding that 1.8m died from Aids-related illnesses in 2009, down from 2.1m in 2004.
The report further revealed that the rates of treatment using anti-retroviral drugs have risen from 700,000 in 2004 to over 5m people in 2009. And that while Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region most affected by the epidemic, with around 70 percent of all new HIV infections occurring in the region, infection rates are falling, particularly in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.
It noted that there is a mixed picture in other parts of the world such as Eastern Europe and central Asia showing sharp rise in new infections and Aids-related deaths.
It however blamed bad laws and discrimination for mitigating against AIDS.
“We are breaking the trajectory of the Aids epidemic with bold actions and smart choices.
“Investments in the Aids response are paying off, but gains are fragile—the challenge now is how we can all work to accelerate progress,” said Mr Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS.