31 July 2008 - According to a new report from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the 2008 Report on the global AIDS epidemic, the substantial increases in HIV prevention efforts in recent years are producing results. New HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are declining at the global level; in fact, the number of new HIV infections declined from 3 million in 2001 to 2.7 million in 2007.
Significant gains in preventing new infections are being seen in a number of countries most affected by the AIDS epidemic. However the AIDS epidemic is not over in any part of the world. Rates of new HIV infections are rising in many countries, including parts of South-East Asia and Eastern Europe.
Moreover, in virtually all regions outside of sub-Saharan Africa, HIV infections have disproportionately affected injecting drug users and people in prison settings. UNODC is the lead agency within UNAIDS for HIV/AIDS prevention and care among this high-risk population.
"HIV prevalence rates among injecting drug users remain high," says Christian Kroll, UNODC Global Coordinator for HIV/AIDS. "Although prevention programmes are showing results in some countries, much more needs to be done."
Discrimination, often through laws, regulations or policies that present obstacles to effective HIV prevention, treatment and care, remains a barrier for most at risk populations. Conversely, countries which protect these populations from discrimination tend to have more successful HIV prevention programmes.
One of the major thrusts of UNODC's HIV programme is to help countries scale up services for injecting drug users and prisoners by providing HIV and AIDS information, education and the means of reducing HIV-related risk practices.
The total number of people living with HIV is estimated at 33 million people globally, with nearly 7,500 new infections each day.
Read the full report (link to the UNAIDS website)