With the number of people being diagnosed with HIV falling, AIDS could one day be eradicated, experts claim. A report from the United Nations said this was thanks to better access to drugs that can both treat and prevent the incurable human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS. At 2.5 million, the number of new infections in 2011 was 20 per cent lower than in 2001.Deaths from AIDS also fell to 1.7 million in 2011, down from a peak of 2.3 million in 2005.

New HIV infections continue to fall

However, sub-Saharan Africa is the most severely affected region with almost one in every 20 adults infected, nearly 25 times the rate in Asia. There are also almost five million people with HIV in South, South-East and East Asia combinedd. Since 1995, AIDS drug treatment – known as antiretroviral therapy – has saved 14 million life-years in poorer countries, including 9 million in sub-Saharan Africa, the report said.

UNAIDS
said the sharpest declines in new HIV infections since 2001 were in the Caribbean and in sub-Saharan Africa – where new infections were down 25 per cent in a decade. Despite this, sub-Saharan Africa still accounted for 71 per cent of people newly infected in 2011, underscoring the need to boost HIV prevention efforts in the region, UNAIDS said.

Scientific studies published in recent years have shown that getting timely treatment to those with HIV can also cut the number of people who become newly infected with the virus.

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