Twenty five low- and middle-income countries, including Rwanda, have managed to halve their rate of new HIV infections since 2001, UNAIDS said in its annual report on the state of the global pandemic.
The UN body’s World AIDS Day Report 2012 shows that in the last ten years, the landscape of national HIV epidemics has changed dramatically, for the better in most countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
Countries are making historic gains towards ending the AIDS epidemic: 700,000 fewer new HIV infections across the world in 2011 than in 2001, it says.
Rwanda, Gabon, and Togo, are some of the countries which achieved significant declines of more than 50%, according to the report.
“We are moving from despair to hope,” Michel Sidibe, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, said in Geneva, pointing out that around half of all reductions in new HIV infections in the past two years had been among children.
“It is becoming evident that achieving zero new HIV infections in children is possible,” he said.
Globally, new HIV infections fell to 2.5 million last year from 2.6 million in 2010 and represented a 20-percent drop from 2001, according to UNAIDS.
“The pace of progress is quickening. What used to take a decade is now being achieved in 24 months,” Sidibe said.
Particular progress had been made in bringing down the number of children newly infected with HIV.
Last year, 330,000 children worldwide were infected with the virus that causes AIDS, down from 370,000 in 2010, and 43 percent fewer than in 2003.
And in sub-Saharan Africa — a region that is today home to 90 percent of the world’s infected youngsters — the number of children newly infected with the virus dropped by 24 percent between 2009 and 2011 alone.
Sub-Saharan Africa has cut the number of people dying of AIDS-related causes by 32% between 2005 and 2011.
In 2011, 1.7 million people died from AIDS-related causes worldwide — down 24 percent from 2005 and nearly six percent below the 2010 level, according to the report released ahead of this year’s World AIDS Day marked on December 1.