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Progress reported in treating AIDS

There's some encouraging news out about the fight against AIDS worldwide. The number of people who got access to treatment for the AIDS virus rose to 5.2 million in 2009, according to a new report from the United Nations. That's a increase of more than 1.2 million from 2008, the largest increase yet in any single year, and means 36 percent of those who need the drugs are getting them, the report said.

The report, from the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), assessed progress in delivering life-saving drugs in 144 low- and middle-income countries. The report found:

--15 countries, including Botswana, Guyana and South Africa, were able to provide more than 80 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women the services and drugs needed to prevent them from passing the virus to their babies.
--14 countries, including Brazil, Namibia and Ukraine, provided treatment to more than 80 percent of HIV-positive children.
--Eight countries, including Cambodia, Cuba and Rwanda, achieved universal access to antiviral treatment for adults.
--In eastern and southern Africa, the region most severely affected by NIH, treatment coverage increased from 32 percent to 41 percent in one year and half of pregnant women were able to get HIV testing and counseling.
--In sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 1 million more people started antiviral treatment increasing the number getting drugs from 2.95 million to 3.91 million. That meant 37 percent of those who needed the drugs were getting them. In Latin America and the Caribbean, 50 percent of those who needed the drugs were getting them. In East, South and Southeast Asia, the number was 31 percent. In Europe and central Asia it was 19 percent. And in north Africa and the Middle East, it was 11 percent.


Protestors gather near the United Nations to stage a march connected to the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York, Monday, Sept. 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

"Countries in all parts of the world are demonstrating that universal access is achievable," said Hiroki Nakatani, the WHO's Assistant Director-General for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Despite the progress, officials said the efforts still have a long way to go and face big problems, most notably getting enough money. At the moment, the program is $10 billion short

By Rob Stein  | September 28, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  AIDS  
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