New H.I.V. Cases Falling in Some Poor Nations, but Treatment Still Lags

New York Times, By Donald G. McNeil, Jr., November 20

New infections with H.I.V. have dropped by half in the past decade in 25 poor and middle-income countries, many of them in Africa, the continent hardest hit by AIDS, the United Nations said Tuesday.

The greatest success has been in preventing mothers from infecting their babies, but focusing testing and treatment on high-risk groups like gay men, prostitutes and drug addicts has also paid dividends, said Michel Sidibé, the executive director of the agency U.N.AIDS.

“We are moving from despair to hope,” he said.

Despite the good news from those countries, the agency’s annual report showed that globally, progress is steady but slow. By the usual measure of whether the fight against AIDS is being won, it is still being lost: 2.5 million people became infected last year, while only 1.4 million received lifesaving treatment for the first time.

“There has been tremendous progress over the last decade, but we’re still not at the tipping point,” said Mitchell Warren, the executive director of AVAC, an advocacy group for AIDS prevention. “And the big issue, sadly, is money.”

Update: And from the optimist’s corner, An end to AIDS? United Nations says it’s feasible

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  • Cellphones Reshape Prostitution in India, and Complicate Efforts to Prevent AIDS

    New York Times, By Gardiner Harris, November 24

    Mumbai, India — Millions once bought sex in the narrow alleys of Kamathipura, a vast red-light district here. But prostitutes with inexpensive mobile phones are luring customers elsewhere, and that is endangering the astonishing progress India has made against AIDS.

    Indeed, the recent closings of hundreds of ancient brothels, while something of an economic victory for prostitutes, may one day cost them, and many others, their lives.

    “The place where sex happens turns out to be an important H.I.V. prevention point,” said Saggurti Niranjan, program associate of the Population Council. “And when we don’t know where that is, we can’t help stop the transmission.”

  • Hillary Clinton unveils ‘blueprint’ to combat AIDS

    CNN, By David Ariosto, November 29

    New York – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday unveiled what she described as a “blueprint” to guide global efforts in wiping out the AIDS virus, focusing on improving treatment and prevention practices to “get ahead of the pandemic.”

    The initiative is part of a plan to “usher in an AIDS-free generation,” said Clinton, who hailed a 200% increase in U.S.-funded antiretroviral drug treatments since 2008.

    Clinton announced the plan, officially titled the “President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation,” at the State Department, two days ahead of World AIDS Day. She was joined by Eric Goosby, U.S. global AIDS coordinator.

    “We can reach a point where virtually no children are born with the virus,” Clinton said, adding that the plan also aims to further reduce transmission rates and increase access to medical treatment for those who are already infected.

    Fact Sheet: The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation

    PDF: PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation

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