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New HIV infections, deaths on decline

Paris, Thursday

AIDS claimed a million lives in 2016, almost half the 2005 toll that marked the peak of the deadly epidemic, said a UN report Thursday proclaiming “the scales have tipped”.

Not only are new HIV infections and deaths declining, but more people than ever are on life-saving treatment, according to data published ahead of an Aids science conference opening in Paris on Sunday.

“In 2016, 19.5 million of the 36.7 million people living with HIV had access to treatment,” said the UNAIDS global roundup. This marked the first time that more than half of infected people were receiving anti-retroviral treatment, which subdues the Aids virus but does not kill it.

“Aids-related deaths have fallen from 1.9 million in 2005 to one million in 2016,” said the authors, adding that “for the first time the scales have tipped.”

The year 2016 saw 1.8 million new infections, almost half the record number of some 3.5 million in 1997, said the report. In total, 76.1 million people have been infected with HIV, the virus that causes Aids, since the epidemic started in the 1980s.

Some 35 million have died. “Communities and families are thriving as Aids is being pushed back,” said UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe (pictured). -AFP

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