Amidst college sports sex scandals, a tsunami in Japan, and some of the highest unemployment rates in history, there is one positive piece of news at the end of this year.

The numbers of new HIV infections and deaths related to AIDS fhave dropped to their lowest numbers since the epidemic reached its peak in the 1990’s.

“Never before in the history of AIDS have we reached a moment where we are able to stand up and say with conviction the end of AIDS is in sight,” said Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations program on HIV and AIDS, also known as UNAIDS, in his 2011 World AIDS Day message.

HIV infections have dropped by 21 percent compared to their highest rate in 1997, and the percentage of AIDS deaths has declined also by 21 percent since 2005.

The official 2011 World AIDS Day report from UNAIDS stated that this has been a “game changing” year for the worldwide fight against AIDS.

UNAIDS attributes the considerable headway made on lowering the numbers to the fact that more people now have access to HIV treatment compared to the amount that had access to it in past years.

The lower numbers could also be attributed to people having fewer sexual partners and increased condom use.

With this, a big part of the problem lies in the fact that only 28 percent of just the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV have the infection under control, therefore increasing the risk that they will spread it to others, according to a report released by MSNBC.

“The problem is that one in five U.S. adults infected with HIV do not know it. People can be infected with the AIDS virus for years without developing symptoms. Of those who are aware, only half receive ongoing medical care and treatment,” said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its latest report on HIV in America.

Another hurdle is the fact that, according to the World AIDS Day report, funds would need to be increased from $15 billion a year to $24 billion a year for success against the disease to continue.

A new framework for AIDS investment created by UNAIDS, which has yet to be tested, will focus on six strategies, including a focus on keeping children from becoming infected and the promotion and distribution of condoms in order to keep increasing funds.

Still, United Nations Secretary-General confidently released his statement on 2011 World AIDS Day, which said, “Heading into the fourth decade of AIDS, we are finally in a position to end the epidemic. The progress we have made so far is proof that we can realize our vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.”

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