Falling condom use in Africa undermines efforts to fight HIV: UN

23 September 2013 - 12:32 By Sapa-dpa

People in several African countries are using fewer condoms and have sex with more than one partner, threatening efforts to fight HIV, the UN agency tasked with controlling the virus that causes AIDS warned on Monday.

New infections in sub-Saharan Africa dropped 34 per cent between 2001 and 2012, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said in its annual report.

However, the region last year still accounted for 70 per cent of the estimated 2.3 million new infections with the virus.

UNAIDS said there was evidence that the number of people who have more than one sexual partner was rising in many African countries.

It named Burkina Faso, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guyana, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, while condom use was declining in Cote d'Ivoire, Niger, Senegal and Uganda.

Globally, new infections per year have declined by a third since 2001, the year after UN member countries adopted the Millennium Development Goals, which include ambitious targets on curbing HIV until 2015.

Since then the number of people who die from AIDS each year has fallen by 30 to 1.6 million last year.

However, infection rates are on the rise in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

While good progress has been made on the 2015 targets in terms of halving virus transmission, ending infections of children and making medicine available, little has been achieved towards reducing infections among drug users, UNAIDS said.

"In several parts of the world where people who inject drugs represent sizable components of national (HIV) epidemics, countries have yet to demonstrate a robust response to this public health challenge," it said.