HIV prevalence rates in 11 African nations are leveling off or declining for the first time in the pandemic's history, according to a study by the U.S. Agency for International Development. "It's too early to call this a victory, but if everything continues to go in the right direction, we may have something here," Peter Piot, executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, told The Boston Globe.
The study found that cities in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda are experiencing declining HIV prevalence rates, while prevalence rates in cities in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Senegal are stabilizing. However, HIV infections rates continue to climb in Namibia, Nigeria, Mozambique, Cameroon, and South Africa. While health officials welcomed the news, they said they aren't sure what is leading to the dropping prevalence rates in some of the countries, adding that it could be due to the effects of new prevention programs, changes in sexual behavior, or increases in numbers of people dying from the disease. USAID has directed HIV prevention programs that distribute condoms to sexually active people in Africa for the past decade.