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Caribbean records significant drop in AIDS infection rate

Published:Wednesday | September 25, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Cameron Bay, an adult film performer who became infected with HIV while working in the industry in August 2013, cries as she speaks out about her treatment by the porn industry during a news conference sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation at its Public Health Division building in Los Angeles on September 18. Industry officials say the recent infections have not been tracked back to film sets and most likely occurred through the actors' private lives.


The Caribbean, which ranks second behind sub-Saharan Africa for HIV/AIDS infection rates, has led the world in reducing the number of new infections between the period 2005-2011, according to a new United Nations report released here.

The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said an estimated 2.3 million adults and children were newly infected with HIV in 2012, representing a 33 per cent reduction in annual new cases compared to 2001.

In the same time period, new HIV infections among children fell 52 per cent to 260,000 in 2012, UNAIDS said, noting however that deaths from AIDS-related illnesses in the Caribbean fell by 48 per cent.

UNAIDS said the Caribbean has led the world in reducing the number of new infections with the rate falling by 42 per cent between 2005 and 2011.

Latin America and Caribbean regional manager for the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Ruth Ayarza, said governments have responded with better access to treatment in the region.

But Ayarza said more than 13,000 people became infected with HIV/AIDS in 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, bringing the total number of cases to 230,000 in the region. The report also found that greater access to antiretroviral treatments led to a 30 per cent drop in AIDS-related deaths from the peak in 2005.

By the end of 2012, some 9.7 million people in low- and middle-income countries have accessed antiretroviral therapy, an increase of nearly 20 per cent in just one year, the report noted, adding that significant results have also been achieved towards meeting the needs of tuberculosis patients living with HIV, a figure down 36 per cent since 2004.

UNAIDS said domestic spending on HIV has also increased, accounting for 53 per cent of global HIV resources in 2012, even as donor funding plateaued at its 2008 levels.

Spending on HIV and AIDS was estimated at US$18.9 billion in 2012, but UNAIDS said an estimated US$22-24 billion would be needed annually by 2015.