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Many More Patients Receiving AIDS Drugs

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The number of people worldwide receiving AIDS drugs has increased 10-fold in five years -- to about four million. But five million other HIV/AIDS patients still don't have access to the life-saving medicines, says a report released Wednesday.

"Even though some of the data are not fully clear and there are some unanswered questions, this is a dramatic improvement. It shows that all this money that has gone to treatment has made some difference," Daniel Halperin, an AIDS expert at Harvard University, told the Associated Press.

The 2008 statistics -- contained in an annual AIDS report jointly published by the U.N. AIDS program, UNICEF and the World Health Organization -- show a major increase in the availability of AIDS drugs to patients across Africa, which has been particularly hard hit by the AIDS epidemic.

"We have invested a lot of funds into HIV/AIDS, but it has been a worthwhile investment because we have saved lives," said Dr. Teguest Guerma, WHO's acting AIDS director, the AP reported.

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