Doctors across the continent of Africa have seen a 50 percent decline in new cases of HIV since 2005, according to “Results,” the World AIDS Day report prepared by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and to be released Nov. 27.
Since 2001 Malawi alone has seen a 73 percent decrease in new cases. That number is 71 percent for Botswana and 68 percent in Namibia. These countries, along with Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland-- all nations with the highest rates of infection-- have all seen their statistics fall dramatically.
The progress has been made in roughly 25 African nations and is being attributed to increases in testing and a massive spike in the use of antiretroviral therapy among HIV patients- especially with mothers who have tested positive.
“The pace of progress is quickening—what used to take a decade is now being achieved in 24 months,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, in a statement.
“It is becoming evident that achieving zero new HIV infections in children is possible,” said Sidibé. “I am excited that far fewer babies are being born with HIV. We are moving from despair to hope.”
The report is seen as good news for the 22 countries and 30 health and civic organizations looking to complete The Global Plan, a worldwide effort to end new HIV infections among children by 2015 and prolong the lives of infected mothers. With Africa alone cutting out a third of global AIDS-related deaths, the finish line is becoming all the more clear.
Health officials are expecting voluntary male circumcision to knock out another 20 percent of new cases by 2025 in East and Southern Africa, and decreases in the cost of HIV medication is expected to further reduce infection rates.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), roughly 34 million people are infected with HIV. Only half of those people know their status, according to UNAIDS.
And while the infection rate has come down, roughly 2.1 million people contracted HIV last year around the world.