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HIV/AIDS Report Makes UN Optimistic Over Potential Elimination of Pandemic

A new report on the HIV/AIDS pandemic has given the United Nations cause to be hopeful, as the study claims the levels of newly infected victims has remained the same since 2007.

Statistical data support the U.N.’s idea that the HIV/AIDS epidemic can eventually be conquered through persistent efforts to educate, medicate, and protect the surviving populace living with the infection. Reports show that 1.9 million deaths occurred from AIDS in 2009, compared to 1.8 million deaths in 2010.

In addition, the 2.7 million infected last year is the same amount as the last three years. Although this might seem dismal because of the sheer amount of people contracting HIV/AIDS, it is better than 1997, when the infection was at its peak and running rampant.

There are critics of the U.N.’s optimism, however. Moreover, there are a number of figures supporting the organization’s attitude.

Eastern Europe and central Asia have seen significant rises in those who have been infected. In some places, it is as high as a 250 percent increase. Surveys show that the jump is mainly because of shared needles by intravenous drug users.

In addition, the numbers of those living with HIV/AIDS has increased to 34 million, up a bit from years past. This may not necessarily be a negative occurrence though, as it shows more people are successfully living with the virus.

Sophie Harman, a global health specialist from London, said that UNAIDS is being unrealistic with their expectations.

“They need to get real… If their main goal is eradication, it’s highly unlikely that will ever happen,” said Harman to CBS News.

Sub-Saharan Africa, the site of over 68 percent of all HIV/AIDS cases worldwide, continues to be the worst affected by the virus. The same countries are eager to battle the infection by targeting prostitutes, gay men, and intravenous drug users for medical attention, but funds were pulled, causing clinics to close.

“Just at the moment when we know how to manage HIV, we’re hitting the brakes,” said Sharonann Lynch, who works with Doctors without Borders. “Without more investment, we'll be squandering the best chance we have of getting ahead of the new wave of infections,” the HIV policy adviser told CBS News.

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