UNAIDS sounds alarm on “rising” HIV infections

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Michel Sidibé, head of UNAIDS, who said 1.9 million adults have become infected with HIV every year for the past five years. Photo: UN Photo/Daniel Johnson

Progress in reversing HIV has stalled among adults and infections are rising in some parts of the world, the UN warned Tuesday.

Announcing new data on the global fight against HIV, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, or UNAIDS, said that the virus infected more than two million people in 2015.

And although overall levels of HIV infection have come down significantly in recent years, prevention "is not working" for some high-risk individuals, the agency said.

Jocelyne Sambira has more.

The latest data from UNAIDS shows significant progress in stopping HIV infection among children, by more than 70 per cent since 2001.

But it also shows worrying increases in new HIV infections among adults, in Eastern Europe and central Asia, as well as the Caribbean.

If left untreated, the HIV virus can develop into AIDS, which killed more than one million people in 2015.

Of the more than 36 million people living with HIV, the overwhelming majority are in Africa.

And the problem is most acute for young women in southern and eastern Africa, according to UNAIDS executive director, Michel Sidibé:

"The report is showing clearly that HIV prevention firstly, HIV prevention is not working for young women in sub-Saharan Africa. They need more options. Seventy-five per cent of new infections among adolescents, 10 to 19 are adolescent girls in Africa. "

Other at-risk individuals who have seen a rise in HIV infections include gay men, sex workers, people who inject drugs and prisoners.

UNAIDS' Michel Sidibé blamed complacency as part of the reason why infections are rising in some communities.

But more important, he said, are the problems many vulnerable people encounter getting access to the full range of HIV-preventing medicines in dozens of countries around the world.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations

Duration: 1’30”

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