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20 years

World AIDS Day: A generation with zero new infections

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GENEVA – December 1st, 2012 ( The World Health Organization’s (WHO) theme for World Aids Day 2012, which will be celebrated Dec. 1, is “Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero deaths from AIDS-related illness. Zero discrimination.”

In 2011, 2.5 million people were newly infected with HIV. An estimated 1.7 million people died. That is 700,000 fewer new infections worldwide than ten years ago, and 600,000 fewer deaths than in 2005, according to WHO.

The reason is wider access to antiretroviral medicines to treat those infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. These medicines reduce the amount of virus in the blood, which increases the chance they will stay healthy and decreases the risk they can pass the virus to someone else.

Currently 8 million people in low- and middle-income countries are accessing the treatment they need, up from only 0.4 million in 2003.

“Many countries are facing economic difficulties, yet most are managing to continue expansion of access to antiretroviral medicines,” said Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall, director of the World Health Organization’s HIV Department. “The challenge now is to ensure that global progress is mirrored at all levels and in all places so that people, whoever they are and wherever they live, can obtain antiretroviral therapy when they need it.”

In Latin America, 1.4 million now are infected with HIV/AIDS, with 58,000 new cases in 2012, according to the WHO. Some 600,000 are receiving antiretroviral treatment, according to the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO).

Cuba, Nicaragua, and Guyana showed more than 80% of antiretroviral coverage; followed by Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Uruguay with coverage between 70 and 79%; Ecuador, El Salvador, Jamaica, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela with 60% of coverage. Bolivia was the country with the least progress, with 20% of coverage, according to the United Nations Program on AIDS (UNAIDS) and WHO.

Antiretroviral use for pregnant women, critical to prevent infection from mother to the baby, was 56% in Latin America and 79% in the Caribbean.

Deaths related to HIV/AIDS fell 10% from 2005 to 2011 in Latin America, from 60,000 to 54,000, and more than half in the Caribbean, from 20,000 to 10,000, according to UNAIDS.

In Mexico, there were 147,137 living with HIV in 2011 and officials expect to close 2012 with 9,600 new infections. There are 3 male cases for every woman, according to the National Center for HIV/Aids Prevention and Control.

In Brazil, some 530,000 are infected with HIV, and 135,000 don’t know their status, according to the Ministry of Health.

To solve this, the government announced recently an increase in access to the rapid HIV test, which uses only a drop of blood and takes only half an hour to show the results. Officials expect to perform 2.9 million tests nationwide in 2012.

“A new era of hope has emerged in countries and communities across the world that had previously been devastated by AIDS,” said UNAIDS, which spearheads the international campaign against the disease.


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