Eastern Europe, Asia HIV infections soar

2011-11-30 15:01

Geneva - HIV infection rates are rising the fastest in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, UN agencies said ahead of World Aids Day on Thursday.

Last year, there were 1.5m people living with the virus in these regions - an increase of 250% since 2001, the United Nations said in an annual report issued in Geneva on Wednesday.

"There is no sign yet that the epidemic in this region has peaked," the World Health Organisation, UNAids and the UN children's fund Unicef said.

This was in contrast to the global trend of stagnating infection and death rates over the past years.

Most of the infections in Eastern Europe occur in Russia and the Ukraine, where prostitution and drug abuse have contributed to the problem.

However, sub-Saharan Africa is bearing the brunt of the disease.

Some 22.9m people lived with HIV in that part of the world last year, representing nearly 68% of the global total.

At the same time, the report said that nearly half of those in need of antiretroviral drugs in sub-Saharan Africa received it, compared to less than a quarter in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The agencies warned that global funding available for the fight against HIV/Aids fell for the first time last year, dropping some $1bn to $15bn.