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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

HIV infection on rise in all regions

HIV infection is rising in every region of the world and most worryingly in countries like Uganda and Thailand, which had been heralded as success stories in the fight against AIDS, the United Nations has said.

Nearly 40 million adults and children are infected worldwide.

The most striking increases in new cases are in east Asia and in eastern Europe/central Asia, mainly due to drug use and unsafe sex, UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation said yesterday.

Somebody is infected with the deadly HIV virus every 8 seconds, equivalent to 11,000 infections worldwide every day, while another 8,000 infected people die, the two agencies said in a joint annual report ''2006 AIDS Epidemic Update''.

''Evidence shows again that the global epidemic is growing in all areas,'' Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS, told a news conference.

''Perhaps of even greater concern to me is the fact that in some countries that had known real results in the fight against AIDS -- Uganda and some western countries -- we see an increase in infection rates.'' Some 4.3 million people across the globe became infected with HIV this year, with a heavy concentration among young people, bringing the total number to an estimated 39.5 million.

Sub-Saharan Africa, which recorded 2.8 million new infections, still bears the brunt of the AIDS scourge, with 24.7 million people living with HIV, according to the report.

Of the 2.9 million global deaths from AIDS last year -- which Piot said was the highest number recorded -- 2.1 million occurred in Africa, the core area of the 25-year-old epidemic.

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