Worldwide HIV infection rates have fallen by a third since 2001 according to new data released earlier this week by UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.
According to the report, 2.5 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2011, down from 3.2 million in 2001. More specifically, new HIV infection rates for children saw a reduction of 52 percent since 2001, while new infections among adults and children combined fell 33 percent in the same time period.
AIDS-related deaths have also dropped 30 percent from 2005, their highest point on record.
UNAIDS cites an increase in domestic HIV and AIDS-related spending on research, treatment and prevention efforts, as well as more effective treatment options as difference makers behind the decline in new infections.
“I think the decline in new HIV infections speaks to the tremendous success of programs like the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and others that have made therapy available worldwide to many people with HIV,” said University of Minnesota infectious disease expert Timothy Schacker, M.D., a specialist in HIV and AIDS-related treatment and research . “When patients receive treatment for their infection they’re less likely to pass the virus on to sexual partners or children during birth. The latest report by UNAIDS is excellent news, but it also highlights all of the work that lies ahead.”