UN AIDS report shows gaps in world response
By Kerry Sheridan, AFP
July 20, 2012, 12:25 am TWN
WASHINGTON--Deaths from HIV/AIDS are rising in parts of Asia and Central Europe and the global response must accelerate, experts said Wednesday after the release of a major report on the world AIDS epidemic.
The epicenter of the crisis remains in Africa, where great strides have been made in domestic funding and treatment, but where 1.2 million people died of AIDS-related causes last year, the bulk of the 1.5 million deaths worldwide.
The 300,000 deaths in South and East Asia last year are the largest outside of Africa, and mounting infections and deaths in Eastern Europe and central Asia show no sign of slowing down, said the report by UNAIDS.
One of the chief accomplishments in the world response is that now more than eight million people — a record number in low- and middle-income countries — are getting treated for HIV, making up 54 percent of people in need.
The availability of antiretroviral drugs in low and middle income nations grew by more than 20 percent from 2010 to 2011, said the report issued ahead of the International AIDS Conference to take place in Washington on July 22-27.
The rise in drug coverage in 2011 was accompanied by a dramatic 31-percent drop in deaths from AIDS-related causes in sub-Saharan Africa compared to the peak of the epidemic in 2005.
"But access (to treatment) is not universal. We still have a problem with access in Asia, in Eastern Europe, Central Asia so we need to redouble the effort," said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe.