after AIDS was first recognized, the world is still
falling short in its battle against the disease with severe
gaps in prevention and treatment, the United Nations
said on Tuesday. "Despite some notable achievements,
the response to the AIDS epidemic to date has been
nowhere near adequate," said the Joint U.N. Programme
on HIV/AIDS, the agency that coordinates the global campaign
against the pandemic.
doctors first described the disease in June 1981, AIDS and
the virus that causes it have spread relentlessly from
a few widely scattered hot spots to virtually every
country in the world, infecting 65 million people and
killing 25 million, UNAIDS said in a 630-page report.
produced "mountains of evidence" about how to prevent
and treat this disease, said the report, based on data
gathered from 126 countries since December 2005.
initiatives and their results vary widely from country to
country, and many are falling short of the benchmarks set in
a landmark high-level U.N. General Assembly session in
2001, UNAIDS said.
pandemic and its toll cannot be reversed in the short
term, we need to sustain a full-scale response for the next
decades," it said on the eve of a follow-up session
opening on Wednesday in New York City.
executive director of UNAIDS, told a news conference he
expected long-term commitments at this week's meeting,
noting that spending on AIDS had reached its target
for 2005 with expenditures of $8.3 billion, compared
with $1.6 billion in 2001. He said it was time to move
beyond short-term crisis management and that UNAIDS hoped
for $20 billion annually by 2010.
since the last special session, the report cited evidence
that more people are using condoms, having fewer sex
partners, and starting sexual activity later in life.
The global AIDS
incidence rate is believed to have peaked in the late
1990s. About 1.3 million people in the developing world are
now on life-extending antiretroviral medicines, which
saved about 300,000 lives last year alone.
Still, some 4.1
million people were newly infected and 2.8 million died
in 2005. There were 4.9 million new infections and 3.1
million deaths in 2004.
Fewer than half
of young people were knowledgeable about AIDS. Among
those injecting illegal drugs or having gay sex, few
received preventive services last year.
The global supply
of condoms was less than 50% of what was needed, and
antiretroviral drugs, while more widely available, remained
costly and hard to get.
Ignored in many
countries are sex workers, said Thoraya Obeid, the Saudi
Arabian executive director of the U.N. Population Fund. She
said they also had the right to prevention and
treatment, especially since many were poor women or
girls sold into prostitution and victims of violence.
However, a final
statement by governments at the conference this week is
not expected to refer to prostitutes, drug users, or gays
due to objections from Islamic nations, some Catholic
countries, and the United States, which fear that
merely mentioning these groups would endorse their
individuals still suffer from ostracism and discrimination,
while the vast majority of the world's 40 million infected
people have never been tested for HIV and are unaware
of their status, the report said. While $8.9 billion
is expected to be available in 2006 to combat AIDS in
developing countries, $14.9 billion will be needed, UNAIDS
said. By 2008, it predicted, $22.1 billion would be
needed, including $11.4 billion for prevention plans
The report called
for more and better-targeted education and prevention
strategies, more treatment opportunities, and more drug
research, particularly on drugs for children, whose
needs "have been largely left out of the research
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