New tragic news: The proportion of the world's new H.I.V. infections occurring in Asia has risen sharply in the past two years as the epidemic has outstripped efforts to stop it, the United Nations said in a report released here on Tuesday. The size of the increase surprised United Nations health officials, who said that one in four - or nearly 1.2 million of the estimated 4.8 million new infections in 2003 - occurred in Asia. That figure rose from one in five, or about 910,000 of the 4.4 million new infections in 2001. Worldwide, the rate of new infections of human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes AIDS, in 2003 was the highest of any year since the epidemic was recognized more than two decades ago, the report said. Since 1981, more than 20 million people have died of AIDS, 2.6 million of them in 2003. Good news. from Friday: The first clinical trial of generic AIDS drugs in a simple 3-in-1 pill has found that they work as well as brand-name drugs, researchers are reporting today. Because of patent problems, brand-name drugs for first-line treatment do not come in 3-in-1 pills, and medicines that are deeply discounted for poor countries by their makers usually still cost more than generics. Old bad news: ...the United States has refused to let the $15 billion that President Bush has committed to fighting AIDS in the third world be used for generic drugs, arguing that there is not enough proof they are effective.


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