Bangalore: In the eight years since 2001, new HIV infections have fallen by 17% globally, though the decline is a modest 10% in South and South-East Asia, according to a new report released on Tuesday by the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization.

Graphics: Paras Jain / Mint

According to the AIDS Epidemic Update 2009, around 33.4 million people are living with HIV worldwide with 2.7 million people being newly infected and two million dying from AIDS-related illness in 2008.

India accounts for roughly half of Asia’s HIV prevalence. Sexual transmission accounts for 90% of HIV prevalence nationwide; the rest is from drug use in the North-East. However, a promising picture has emerged in the heavily affected states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, where HIV prevalence among 15–24-year-old women attending antenatal clinics declined by 54% between 2000 and 2007. In four states of southern India, surveys found an HIV prevalence of 14.5% among female sex workers.

Due to the efforts of the National AIDS Control Office, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s AIDS initiative Avahan and other programmes, prevention services now reach at least 80% of female sex workers in four most affected states, according to the report. Between 2003 and 2006, HIV prevalence among female sex workers fell from 10.3% to 4.9%. In Pune, female sex workers’ risk of getting infected with HIV fell by more than 70% between 1993 and 2002, and similarly declines were reported for male clients of sex workers.

In 2008, $15.6 billion (Rs72,696 crore) was estimated to be available from all sources for HIV but UNAIDS estimates that $25 billion will be needed for HIV services in 2010.