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2005-11-21-Africa's HIV rate still highest
HIV prevalence appears to be declining in a few African countries, but sub-Saharan Africa is still the area worst affected by HIV, the UN says.
The UN's annual update on HIV-Aids notes declines in adult HIV prevalence in Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
"Each of those countries, however, remains saddled with a large, potentially ruinous epidemic," it says.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 25.8m people living with HIV: over 60% of the number of people with HIV worldwide.
The update, published by the Joint UN Programme on HIV-Aids (UNAids), also says the number of people living with HIV throughout the world is at its highest yet.
HIV prevalence remains exceptionally high in southern Africa and the epidemic is continuing to expand
Aids in a Malawi village
HIV prevalence remains particularly high in Southern Africa, and is continuing to expand, notably in Mozambique and Swaziland.
In Zimbabwe, HIV prevalence among pregnant women declined from 26% in 2002 to 21% in 2004, the UNAids update says, citing data from the national surveillance system. Reduction in reported number of sexual partners
"However, with over one in five pregnant women still testing HIV-positive in Zimbabwe," infection levels remain among the highest in the world," UNAids says.
In Swaziland, HIV prevalence among pregnant women rose to 43%, up from 34% four years earlier.
Case study: Zimbabwe
2002: 26% HIV prevalence
2004: 21% HIV prevalence
Change attributed to change in sexual behaviour
Reduction in reported number of sexual partners
86% of men report condom use in casual partnerships
83% of women report condom use in casual partnerships
HIV infection levels in west and central Africa remain the same, other than a decline in prevalence in urban areas of Burkina Faso.
Botswana and Uganda are leading the way in rolling out anti-retroviral treatment, with at least one-third of those who need ARVs now receiving them in those countries.
But in South Africa, where ARV provision has become a burning political issue in the last few years, at least 85% of people in need of ARVs - almost 900,000 people - were still not receiving the drugs by mid-2005, UNAids says.