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New HIV infections in Africa pose huge challenge

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-07-12 20:59

ABIDJAN - New HIV infections among stable couples pose great challenge to the fight against the epidemic in Africa, a senior UNAIDS official told Xinhua on Thursday.

UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibe, said the situation coupled with the rise in new infections among young girls in some parts of the continent was disturbing.

"What is really disturbing us right now is that we are seeing a kind of increase of new infections among stable couples particularly among married couples," he said on the sidelines of a media forum here.

Most African countries have seen a decline in new HIV infections for the past few years, compared with Eastern Europe and Central Asia which saw an increase of new infections by 250 percent in the past 10 years.

Despite winning the fight in terms of containing new infections and even reducing mortality due to HIV, Sidibe said there is still a huge gap on the continent.

Kenya has almost 40 percent of new infections among stable couples with 66 percent of the new infections being discordant: a pair of long-term sexual partners in which one has a sexually transmitted infection and the other does not, he said.

"If you take 1.7 million people are dying of AIDS-related illnesses, almost half of those people are from the developing world," he said, calling for prevention to make sure that couples infected had access to early treatment to stop transmission.

"So we need to be able to make treatment available as a human right, to people who are in need of treatment and that is what we need to address the future," he said.

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