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WHO says no global AIDS epidemic outside Africa

Jun 10, 2008 02:58 PM IST India India

New Delhi: The World Health Organisation has declared that the threat of a global heterosexual epidemic outside Africa might have passed.

The head of WHO's HIV/AIDS department Kevin de Cock has said that unlike Africa where the HIV virus has been found to be self-sustaining in the general population, a similar trend has not emerged in Asian countries.

The WHO experts also said that in Asian nations, the prevalence is mostly concentrated in high-risk groups like homosexual men, sex workers and their clients.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the numbers of people newly infected with HIV are far and away outpacing the numbers beginning antiretroviral drug treatments.

Ban said that 2.5 million people were infected with HIV in 2007 as compared with 1 million who started using important antiretroviral drugs.

"Unless greater and swifter advances are made in reaching those who need essential services, the epidemic's burden on households, communities and societies will continue to mount," Ban said.

Some 2.1 million people died of AIDS last year and at least 33 million people worldwide have the HIV infection, according to UN figures.

(With inputs from Associated Press)