22 Nov 2011

Aids deaths down

6:09 am on 22 November 2011

A United Nations agency dealing with the fight against HIV-Aids says the world is on the verge of a significant breakthrough.

In a new report, UNAids says new HIV infections are at their lowest level since 1997 and more people than ever are starting treatment.

The BBC reports that the global number of new HIV infections in 2010 was down 21%.

Sub-Saharan Africa has seen the most dramatic improvement, with a 20% rise in people undergoing treatment between 2009 and 2010.

About half of those eligible for treatment are now receiving it.

UNAids estimates 700,000 deaths were averted last year because of better access to treatment.

That has also helped cut new HIV infections, as people undergoing care are less likely to infect others.

In 2010 there were an estimated 2.7 million new HIV infections, down from 3.2 million in 1997.

Some 1.8 million people died from Aids-related illnesses, down from 2.2 million in 2005.

UNAids says the full preventive impact of treatment is likely to be seen in the next five years, as more countries improve treatment.

Meanwhile, the number of people living with HIV has reached a record 34 million.