New Delhi: An estimated 34 million HIV-positive people live around the world but the good news is that the rate of new infections, especially in India, has seen a drastic drop, a UNAIDS report released on Friday said.
India and South Africa have the maximum number of HIV/AIDS cases, the report said.
"In India, the rate of new HIV infections fell by more than 50 percent and in South Africa by more than 35 percent. Both countries have the largest number of people living with HIV," the statement said.
Globally, the rate of new HIV infections declined by nearly 25 percent between 2001 and 2009, it said.
About 2.5 million people are affected with HIV/AIDS in India, as compared to South Africa where there are an estimated 5.6 million HIV-positive patients.
The report "Nation at Crossroads" was released to mark 30 years of the first case that was reported June 5, 1981 in the US. The deadly disease has claimed 30 million lives in the past three decades.
According to the report: "About 6.6 million people were receiving anti-retroviral therapy in low- and middle-income countries at the end of 2010, a nearly 22-fold increase since 2001.
"A record 1.4 million people started lifesaving treatment in 2010 - more than any year before," the statement said.
But, the report noted that despite expanded access to anti-retroviral therapy, a major treatment gap remains. At the end of 2010, nine million people who were eligible for treatment did not have access to it.
It also said that while the rate of new HIV infections has declined globally, the total number of HIV infections remains high, at about 7,000 per day.
According to the report, at least 420,000 children were receiving anti-retroviral therapy at the end of 2010, a more than 50 percent increase since 2008, when 275,000 children were on treatment.
"Access to treatment will transform the AIDS response in the next decade. We must invest in accelerating access and finding new treatment options," said Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS executive director.
"Anti-retroviral therapy is a bigger game-changer than ever before - it not only stops people from dying, but also prevents transmission of HIV to women, men and children," the report said.
"We are at a turning point in the AIDS response. The goal towards achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support must become a reality by 2015," the report said.
The report found that in the third decade of the epidemic, people were starting to adopt safer sexual behaviours, reflecting the impact of HIV prevention and awareness efforts.
According to the report, above-average decline in new HIV infections were recorded in sub-Saharan Africa and in South East Asia, while Latin America and the Caribbean experienced more modest reductions of less than 25 percent.
"There has been an increase in the rate of new HIV infections in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East and North Africa," it added.