U.N. Updates Status of World AIDS Crisis

Report: No Clear Victories in Controlling HIV Infections

AIDS orphans say a prayer before eating at church in Zambia.

AIDS orphans say a prayer before eating at the Motaru Catholic Church, where a women's group runs a program that feeds orphans every day. AIDS-related deaths in Zambia have orphaned thousands of children in the country. Joao Silva/Corbis Sygma hide caption

itoggle caption Joao Silva/Corbis Sygma

The United Nations released today its annual report on the AIDS epidemic, showing a drop in estimated infections from 42 million people to 40 million. But as NPR's Brenda Wilson reports, that doesn't mean there's an actual decline in infections. The U.N. says it doesn't know the exact number of people living with HIV and AIDS, and that estimated number released this year may be the result of better tracking information vs. an actual decline in infections.

The report also indicates that with 5.3 million people infected with HIV, South Africa still has the highest rate in the world. India has the second highest number of infections, with an estimated 4.8 million people living with HIV. Experts with the U.N. AIDS program say it's not yet clear that India's epidemic will mirror the explosive one in Africa. In Asia as in Africa, sexual behavior is the largest mode of transmission, but studies have shown that people in India have fewer sexual partners and fewer partners outside of marriage, and increasingly are delaying sex and marriage.

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