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Study: HIV
therapy drugs reach one in five

Study: HIV
therapy drugs reach one in five

Only one in five people with HIV in poor and middle-income countries receives the drugs that treat the virus, said a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday. That is despite a 200% rise in the number of people receiving the drug treatment between 2003 and 2005, as individual countries worked to meet a target of treating 3 million people with the drugs by 2005, the government agency's report said.

The dramatic increase in the number of people receiving the drugs means that globally there will be a rise in people living with HIV and thus a growing need to boost measures against HIV transmission, said the report. In all, 4.1 million people were newly infected with HIV and 38.6 million were living with HIV and AIDS in 2005 in an epidemic focused on sub-Saharan Africa.

"Approximately 10% of the world population lives in sub-Saharan Africa, but the region is home to approximately 64% of the world population living with HIV. More women are HIV-infected than men," said the report.

Some African countries including Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe have seen a decline in adult HIV prevalence, but in southern Africa, the epicenter of the pandemic, only 17% of those infected with the virus received the drug treatment.

The drugs save lives by treating infections caused by retroviruses, including HIV.

The report was published ahead of the 16th International AIDS conference in Toronto, Canada, which starts August 13.

There has been major progress in the drive to prevent HIV-positive mothers passing the virus on to their children, but only 8% of the relevant women receive services such as health education, the report said.

Researchers in a separate study by the CDC and the Thailand health ministry found an "alarming" 64% increase in sex between men in Bangkok, Thailand, between 2003 and 2005 and "low awareness" of HIV status among all men in the study."

"The study underscores the need to reach [the group] with more effective behavioral and biomedical interventions, more frequent and increased access to HIV counseling and testing, improved sexually transmitted disease diagnosis and treatment, and community awareness and support," said the report. (Reuters)

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