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HIV and Africa: Finally Something to Cheer About

60ii, minutes, aids, africa, natasha, ed, bradley CBS

(CBS/AP) Ready for this? Good news about HIV in Africa.

The number of young people infected with HIV dropped by at least 25 percent in a dozen countries, reports U.N. AIDS.

Take Kenya. Ten years ago the infection rate among people aged 15 to 24 was about 14 percent in urban areas. Now it's only 5.4 percent.

Why the drop?

There's been significant change in sexual behavior. People are choosing to have fewer partners and there is an increase in condom use, says UNAIDS, the United Nations agency responsible for global AIDS response.

"Young people have shown that they can be change agents in the (AIDS) prevention revolution," UNAIDS wrote in a report.

The drop does not seem to have anything to do with recent U.N. policies, which have mainly focused on buying AIDS drugs.

Some experts called the new focus on prevention  too little, too late.

"Thanks to the U.N.'s strategic blunder, many more people are now infected than would have otherwise been the case had they focused on prevention much earlier," said Philip Stevens, a health policy expert at International Policy Network.

Not only was the money spent unwisely, Stevens says, too much of it may have been designated for HIV treatment.

Despite only causing 4 percent of deaths, AIDS gets about 20 cents of every public health dollar.

"The same amount of money that we spend on AIDS could save many, many more lives more cheaply by vaccinating children or distributing cheap treatments for diarrhea," he said.

"Aid agencies have a responsibility to ensure they save the most lives possible with the amount of money they have available," he said. "Spending the lion's share on HIV clearly does not do that."

Still, good news is good news.

Read the full report here.


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