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By 2015, the number of new HIV infections is expected to drop by half. That is the United Nations' defined goal in the current annual report on the “fight against AIDS”. The new figures on mortality rates and new infections show that this is not impossible.
When the 19th World AIDS Conference started in July this year, many experts, politicians, researchers and medical professionals were confident. A great deal of research has been presented and advances in medicine have indicated that AIDS can be contained soon. "Apparently the immune disease can be stopped" was the credo of many participants. Indeed, in regions and countries where the immunodeficiency disease is particularly raging, an “era of hope” has begun, as stated in the current 2012 annual report of the United Nations Action to Fight AIDS (Unaids).
Significant decline in new HIV infections
The experts from the Unaids presented their report to the world public on Tuesday. "The pace of progress is accelerating - what used to take a decade will now be achieved in 24 months," says Michel Sidibé, director of the UN program "Although around 2.5 million people were still newly infected with the virus in 2011, the number of new infections had dropped by around 20 percent worldwide compared to ten years ago (2001).
The numbers in some countries are also remarkable. For example, the number of patients, especially in the countries with the most AIDS diseases, has decreased massively since 2001. The countries include the African countries Malawi, Botswana and Namibia. South of the Sahara Desert, which is one of the main regions of the AIDS epidemic, around 25 percent fewer people would have been infected with the AIDS-causing virus in a ten-year comparison in 2011. The decline in the Caribbean states is even clearer. About 42 percent fewer people became infected here. The Caribbean is one of the most affected regions right after Africa.
Renate Bähr from the World Population Foundation was extremely pleased with the positive development. The new numbers confirm investments in prevention programs. "With education and prevention, the AIDS epidemic can be contained and lives can be saved," explained Bähr. And the spokesman for the German AIDS Federation, Holger Wicht, believes in "a world without AIDS". But it is "a question of political will "." We have therapies and we have effective prevention strategies, but they should be used to a much greater extent than today. "
Every twentieth African man is infected with HIV
However, there are also negative reports. According to the report, there are also areas where the infection rate is still increasing. The Middle East and North Africa are severely affected. Here, the experts recorded a whopping increase of "35 percent in 10 years". Around 34 million people worldwide are infected with the HI virus. The majority of those affected live in the southern part of the Sahara. Based on the total share, 69 percent of those infected come from this region. According to Unaids, every twentieth person is infected with HIV there. The region is still the main focus of all efforts.
Thanks to improved medical care and access to modern medicines, the death rate in Africa was also significantly reduced. Globally, around 1.7 million people died of AIDS last year. This means that 24 percent fewer people succumbed to the disease compared to 2005. Medical advances could, however, mean that far more people could live longer. Seven million patients have "no access to antiretroviral treatments".
More efforts against HIV and AIDS
The Unaids appeals: "The international community should further promote programs to contain AIDS and HIV". Only then could the UN goal of halving new infections by 2015 be achieved. "It is also important to combat discrimination against those affected by HIV". Discrimination increases the suffering and life of patients and makes the fight against AIDS more difficult. "If the infected have to fear exclusion and violence, therapy and containment becomes even more complicated."
According to the Federal Center for Health Education, around 73,000 are currently infected with the HI virus in Germany. The majority of those affected are 80 percent men. According to surveys, around 2,700 people were newly infected with the dangerous viruses throughout Germany last year. (sb)
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