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AIDS Claims 3.1 Mln Lives in 2005

The global HIV-positive population reached record high 40.3 million in 2005 with about 5 million newly infected, said a UNAIDS report released in New Delhi Monday.

The "AIDS epidemic update" in 2005 showed that the AIDS epidemic has claimed 3.1 million lives in the world this year, of whom 570,000 were children under the age of 15.

"The AIDS epidemic continues to outstrip global and national efforts to contain it," said Dr. Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director, at a press conference Monday.

The number of the newly-infected this year was 6.5 percent more than 2003. Half of the HIV-positive people are women while half of the newly-infected people this year are between 15 to 24 year old.

Sub-Saharan Africa remained the worst-hit region in the world, which has 25.8 million HIV-positive with 3.2 million newly infected this year.

But the fastest growth occurred in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where the HIV-positive population increased by one quarter from 2003 and the number of AIDS deaths doubled. East Asia also reported a rise of 20 percent of HIV-positive people since 2003.

The whole Asia recorded 8.3 million HIV-positive people and 1.1million were newly infected in 2005, accounting for one fifth of the global figure, sharply up over one tenth a decade ago.

"The National HIV infection level in Asia is low but due to its huge population the low national prevalence could mean large numbers of people are living with HIV," Piot said.

India reported 5.13 million of HIV-positive people, remaining the world's second largest following South Africa.

But the HIV infection rates have dropped in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, Piot said.

According to the report, the declines in HIV rates in Kenya and Zimbabwe thank to changes in behavior, including increased use of condoms, delay of the first sexual intercourse and fewer sexual partners.

The UNAIDS report also showed that the access to HIV prevention and treatment remained limited in the most part of the world.

Only one out of ten HIV-positive people in Africa and one of seven in Asia have access to antiretroviral treatment. And among the 40.3 million HIV-positive people in the world, only 10 percent has received HIV tests and known they were infected.

"In the next five years, we should set out sights on achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and support," Piot said.

(Xinhua News Agency November 22, 2005)

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