GENEVA, Switzerland, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- New HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths globally are falling in 2011 to the lowest levels since the peak of the epidemic, U.N. officials in Switzerland said.
Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, said a report by Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, said new HIV infections have been reduced by 21 percent since 1997, and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses have decreased by 21 percent since 2005.
"Even in a very difficult financial crisis, countries are delivering results in the AIDS response," Sidibe said in a statement. "We have seen a massive scale up in access to HIV treatment which has had a dramatic effect on the lives of people everywhere."
UNAIDS and World Health Organization estimates said 6.6 million, or 47 percent, of the estimated 14.2 million people eligible for treatment in low- and middle-income countries had access to lifesaving anti-retroviral therapy in 2010, an increase of 1.35 million since 2009.
The report highlights that there are early signs that HIV treatment is having a significant impact on reducing the number of new HIV infections.
The report said that at the end of 2010:
-- An estimated 34 million people lived with HIV globally.
-- An estimated 2.7 million new HIV infections were diagnosed.
-- An estimated 1.8 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses.
-- Treatment averted 2.5 million deaths since 1995.