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Global HIV Infection Rate Stable: Report

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Over the last two years, the number of people worldwide infected with HIV has remained at about 33 million, according to a report released Tuesday by the World Health Organization and UNAIDS, the United Nations Joint Program on HIV/AIDS. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

The document said about 33.4 million people currently have HIV, compared with 33.2 million in 2007, the Associated Press reported. The disease appears stable in most regions of the world, except for Africa. In 2008, 72 percent of the 2.7 million new HIV cases worldwide were in sub-Saharan Africa.

The experts who prepared the report also said the global HIV epidemic probably peaked in 1996.

The findings should change the funding priorities of international donors, according to some experts. HIV causes about 4 percent of deaths worldwide but receives about 23 cents of every public health dollar, the AP reported.

"We shouldn't let this single disease continue to distort overall global funding, especially when bigger killers like pneumonia and diarrhea in developing countries are far easier and cheaper to treat," Philip Stevens of International Policy Network, a London-based think tank, told the news service.

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