Wednesday, November 24, 2010

UN Reports Fewer HIV Infections

Fewer people in Africa are being infected with HIV, the precursor to AIDs, than at the epidemic's peak, according to the Wall Street Journal, by UNAIDS. A twenty percent decrease from the late 1990's means now only 2.9 million people became infected in 2009.

South Africa has seen encouraging rates of decrease as its presidency has changed and become more open to distributing AIDS medication.

Another source of pride for southern Africa? Giving pregnant or nursing women AIDS medication to prevent the infection of their children at birth or through breast milk.

That, in combination with a shift in the openess of talking about sexual matters between parents and children, and a signs of restraint among people in having only one partner, has meant a shift away from high rates of HIV infections.

In Senegal and Malawi, there has been a shift in relations with the gay community. Instead of jailing these men or pushing them underground, the governments are starting to reach out with condoms and education.

AIDS infection is up in Eastern Europe and Central Asia as heroin attracts more users and more dirty needles, but surprisingly, Iran's prisons have a comprehensive program to combat AIDS.

Michel Sidibe, the director of UNAIDS, accompanied a woman in a chador distributing condoms to the prisoners. And the prisons offer conjugal visits for five hours every three months to married men, with condoms.

However this is just a small step in AIDS control, as UNAIDS estimates for every 100 people who are treated, 200 become infected. The hope UNAIDS has stems from the fact that this ratio is down from a 100/250 ratio in its previous report.

By Margaret Nunne

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