- Although sub-Saharan Africa is the region worst affected by HIV/AIDS, a new report by UNAIDS has noted significant declines in prevalence in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
"Surveys have shown that condom use has been rising, women have been delaying their sexual debut and people have been reducing the number of sexual partners," said the agency's 2006 report on the Global AIDS Epidemic.
In Kenya the rate of infection dropped from 10 percent in the 1990s to about six percent at present, while Uganda saw a "steep decline" in the mid- and late-1990s, stabilising at 6.7 percent currently.
Tanzania has also reached stabilisation at 6.5 percent, but UNAIDS said HIV prevalence was still as high as 13 percent in older groups, such as women between 30 and 34 years of age.
"Encouraging results in HIV prevention and treatment indicate a growing return on investments made in the AIDS response," said UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot.
"In countries where HIV prevalence is declining among young people, there is behaviour change and comprehensive condom programming," said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, executive director of the UN Population Fund. "This is encouraging proof that prevention works, and saves lives."
However, UN officials attending the launch of the report pointed out that children and women were still more vulnerable to AIDS than men, and greater efforts should be made to provide them with adequate protection.
Prevention of mother-to-child transmission, for instance, lagged far behind targets set by world leaders in the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS in 2001. In Uganda, only 12 percent of women were accessing such prevention services, and just seven percent in Tanzania.
"On many issues and in most regions of the world," UNAIDS commented, "Greater action against the epidemic is required now, and will be required long into the future."
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