AIDS deaths in MENA region on the rise, UN report finds

Chinese students showing a handmade red ribbon one day ahead of the the World AIDS Day, at a school in Hanshan, east China's Anhui province. Some 6,000 global HIV experts gather in Paris from July 23, 2017 to take stock of advances in AIDS science as fading hopes of unlocking a cure has shifted research into creative new fields. (AFP)
Updated 21 July 2017
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AIDS deaths in MENA region on the rise, UN report finds

JEDDAH: More people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are dying from AIDS than 10 years ago, bucking the global trend in which the fatality rate is falling as more get treatment.
AIDS claimed a million lives globally last year, although the scales have tipped in the fight against the disease, with more than half of people infected with HIV now getting treatment, a UN report said Thursday.
Global AIDS deaths are now close to half of what they were in 2005, according to the UNAIDS agency.
But in MENA and eastern Europe and central Asia, AIDS-related deaths have risen by 48 percent and 38 percent respectively, it said, mostly due to HIV-positive patients not getting access to treatment.
Exceptions within these regions show that “when concerted efforts are made, results happen,” the report said, noting that in Algeria the rate of HIV treatment access increased to 76 percent in 2016 from 24 percent in 2010, and in Morocco to 48 percent in 2016 from 16 percent in 2010.
Community-based testing and treatment programs are reaching out to key populations in an increasing number of countries in the MENA region, according to the report.
Just over half of people living with HIV in the region know their HIV status. The report suggested that linkages between HIV testing and antiretroviral therapy initiation require strengthening, and that treatment adherence is a challenge.
In the MENA region, the annual number of adults and children dying due to AIDS-related illnesses increased from an estimated 3,600 in 2000 to more than 11,000 in 2016.
AIDS-related deaths more than doubled between 2000 and 2010 in Egypt, Iran, Kuwait, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen, which can be explained by increasing incidence in some countries and limited access to treatment in others. In countries where treatment coverage has expanded, AIDS-related deaths have decreased significantly since 2010 — for example, by 37 percent in Algeria and 28 percent in Djibouti.
According to the report, the annual number of new HIV infections in the Middle East and North Africa has remained stable since 2010, with an estimated 18,000 people newly infected in 2016.
Trends among countries in the region, however, have varied widely.
Since 2010, there have been substantial decreases in annual new infections in Morocco (42 percent), Iran (14 percent) and Somalia (12 percent).
In contrast, new infections rose by 76 percent in Egypt and 44 percent in Yemen.
Although relatively large increases in new infections occurred between 2010 and 2015 for Jordan, Kuwait and Qatar, the absolute number of new infections remains very small, in part because estimates from these countries are for citizens and exclude temporary migrant workers and other foreign nationals.
The report said that Iran, Sudan and Somalia accounted for about 65 percent of new HIV infections in the region in 2016. An additional 23 percent of new infections occurred in Djibouti, Egypt and Morocco, it added.
There was little change in the number of new HIV infections among children (aged 0–14) in the region between 2010 and 2016.
Most of the newly infected children were in Somalia and Sudan, which together accounted for around two thirds of the total.
The biggest reduction in new infections in children between 2010 and 2016 was in Djibouti, where the integration of services to prevent mother-to-child transmission into maternal and child health programs has been expanded.
— With input from AFP


White House: All Daesh-held territory in Syria has been '100 percent eliminated'

Updated 43 min 37 sec ago
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White House: All Daesh-held territory in Syria has been '100 percent eliminated'

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE: The White House said on Friday that all Daesh held territory in Syria has been"100 percent" eliminated.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One Friday that President Donald Trump was briefed about the development by acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
Trump has been teasing the victory for days.
Sanders showed reporters a map of Iraq and Syria that showed that the terror group no longer controlled any territory in the region.

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