While the war against HIV/AIDS is still far from over, 2009 could prove to be a watershed year in terms of advances in prevention and treatment, experts say.
In fact, earlier this month a United Nations report found that the number of people infected with HIV globally has remained unchanged, at about 33 million, for the past two years, and may have peaked in the late 1990s.
Why the change? One big reason could be expanded access to antiretroviral drugs. A report released in October by the World Health Organization, UNICEF and UNAIDS found that 42 percent of people in the developing world who carry HIV now have access to life-extending medications. By the end of 2008, more than 4 million people worldwide were on antiretroviral medicines -- 2.9 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa, where the bulk of HIV-positive people live. That's a tenfold increase in access over the prior five years.