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1 Dec, 2006 07:18

Doctors hold out hope on AIDS day

Doctors hold out hope on AIDS day

Millions of people around the world are uniting to mark World AIDS day. It is the 15th annual awareness day, and this year experts are sending the message that the disease does not always mean death.

Meanwhile, the statistics are grim. 40 million people worldwide are HIV positive and 25 million people have died from AIDS related diseases since the virus was first discovered 25 years ago.

Furthermore, over the past two years there has been an increase in those infected globally, but most significantly in East Asia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the World Health Organisation, around 360, 000 people are registered in Russia as HIV-positive. The real number, however, could be much higher. HIV experts say there are a lot of people who have the virus but are reluctant to go to an AIDS centre for a check up.

It is the young who are some of the largest victims of the epidemic. 40% of all new HIV infections reported are in people aged between 15 and 24.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said people need to hold their leaders accountable to keep a strong momentum in the battle against the disease. He urged politicians to protect the most vulnerable, including sex workers and people already living with HIV.