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Hope rises for beating Aids

Thursday December 1st, 2011

Deaths from HIV infection have fallen by more than a fifth around the world in the last five years, it was announced today.

The nations of the world have also successfully begun to stem the spread of the infection - cutting the rate of new infections by 15 per cent, according to the World Health Organisation.

WHO released an up-beat assessment of the battle against the disease for World Aids Day today.

It says advances in science and innovations in delivery programmes have continued to accelerate in the past year.

And it calls for rapid application of new findings in times of "economic austerity".

In eastern and southern Africa some 61 per cent of pregnant women now receive testing and counselling for the virus, it says. Six years ago this figure stood at just 14 per cent.

And almost half the pregnant women who are diagnosed as infected now receive medication to protect their children, WHO says.

The focus on pregnant women has proved essential as nearly two thirds of those living with the virus are now female - globally. In sub-Saharan Africa the figure is 71 per cent, according to the WHO report.

Gottfried Hirnschall, director of the HIV department of WHO, said: "It has taken the world ten years to achieve this level of momentum. There is now a very real possibility of getting ahead of the epidemic.

"But this can only be achieved by both sustaining and accelerating this momentum over the next decade and beyond."

The rate of improvement was highlighted by the Global Fund, one of the major agencies involved in the battle against Aids. It said it had increased its treatment programme for pregnant women by 30 per cent in the last 11 months - and has now helped 1.3 million. And it has provided testing and counselling for some 190 million women.

Tags: Africa | Flu & Viruses | World Health

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