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Latin America Progresses in Curbing AIDS, but Still Has Long Way to Go

December 6, 2011

The annual number of new HIV infections in Latin America has changed relatively little in recent years, the UN reported ahead of World AIDS Day. Following steady declines after 1996, new infections have since the early 2000s leveled off, with 92,000 new cases and 58,000 AIDS-related deaths reported in 2009.

"In Central and South America, the number of deaths has stabilized, but there is no indication yet of decline," said a regional UNAIDS spokesperson.

An average 54 percent of pregnant women with HIV are receiving antiretroviral therapy, the report said. New infections among children under 15 are declining, from about 47,000 in 2001 to 42,000 in 2010.

The number of people with HIV in the region has grown from 1.1 million in 2001 to 1.4 million in 2009, the report said. Overall prevalence is about 0.5 percent.

"In most of the HIV epidemics in this region, HIV is spreading predominantly in and around networks of men who have sex with men," the report said. "Few national HIV programs focus sufficiently on preventing and treating HIV infection among [MSM]. Of the 12 countries reporting spending on prevention activities, only Peru directed more than 5 percent of its HIV prevention spending" toward MSM.

Social stigma has kept the region's epidemic among MSM "hidden and unacknowledged," though stigma also is directed against sex workers and their clients, UNAIDS noted.

To access the report, click here.

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Excerpted from:
Xinhua News Agency
12.01.2011; Marja Wallengren

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