Latest figures from the UN show there was a 24% drop in new cases of HIV/Aids among children last year.

There were 330,000 new infections in children in 2012 but the report by UNAids also warns "significant additional effort is required" if broader targets to tackle the infection are to be achieved by 2015.

Executive director of UNAids, Michel Sidibe said "Twenty-five countries have reduced the number of new infections by more than 50%.

"In general, we've moved from a phase of political rhetoric to programmes being implemented and having an effect. But some countries aren't using the right strategies - Russia, for example, where infections are still growing."

Overall, 34 million people around the world are now thought to have the virus that causes Aids.

UNAids is monitoring progress against targets such as reducing sexual transmission of HIV by 50% by 2015, and providing antiretroviral therapy to all 15 million people who need it.

The report also shows where challenges remain, calling for a scaling up of efforts to offer circumcision to men, which trials have shown is effective in preventing some new infections.

It goes on to describe how "intensive efforts" are under way to find effective non-surgical approaches to circumcision so that trained nurses could carry out the procedure rather than doctors.

Dr Manica Balasegaram, Executive Director of Médecins Sans Frontières, added: "Scaling up HIV treatment to 15 million people from 8 million today is feasible and has the crucial triple benefit of reducing illness, reducing death, and reducing the risk of transmission."

Posted 21/11/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com