19,5 million people on life-saving HIV/Aids treatment - UNAIDS

A young Kenyan girl takes her antiretroviral drugs- African countries have made great progress in fight against AIDS

A report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids) showed deaths had fallen from a peak of 1.9 million in 2005 to 1 million past year. It means that by 2020, at least 90% of all persons living with HIV infection should know their HIV status.

"Communities and families are thriving as Aids is being pushed back", UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said on Thursday.

In contrast, progress against the targets has been poor in the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where AIDS-related deaths have pointedly risen.

New HIV infections have fallen by 26pc since 2010, and there were an estimated 11,000 new infections in 2016, according to UNAIDS.

They include Middle East and North Africa and in eastern Europe and central Asia.

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Eastern and southern Africa are leading the way, reducing new HIV infections by almost 30 percent since 2010, the report said.

More than half of HIV-infected people are now on life-saving treatment.

"Around 30 percent of people living with HIV still do not know their HIV status, 17.1 million people living with HIV do not have access to antiretroviral therapy and more than half of all people living with HIV are not virally suppressed", the agency said. While this is a drastic decline from the peak of the epidemic in 1997 when 3.2 million got infected, experts maintain that since 2010, the decline in new infections has only been 16%. AIDS-related deaths in the region have decreased by 36% since 2010.

In 2016 the figures were 70%, 77% and 82% respectively. The annual number of new HIV infections in Asia and the Pacific has declined 13% over the last six years, it added.

The UN also estimates deaths from HIV have been cut in half since 2005.

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Among them, 1.8 million were children and 2.1 million people contracted HIV in 2015 itself.

The report said that Iran, Sudan and Somalia accounted for about 65 percent of new HIV infections in the region in 2016.

According to the report, there has been trial of one new HIV vaccine efficacy trial, while another would hold this year.

It also noted that about three-quarters of pregnant women with HIV now have access to medicines to prevent them from passing it to their babies.

This incredible progress is due to the global partnership and commitment of governments, civil society groups, health workers and local and worldwide organizations, along with support from major donors and organizations including the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), UNAIDS and WHO. In collaboration with Unitaid and World Health Organization, the Global Fund is supporting the expansion of HIV self-test kits - flexible options that help address the challenge of nearly half of the people with HIV not knowing their status.

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