The number of people being tested for HIV more than doubled in dozens of countries last year, improving detection of AIDS and contributing to a major surge in those being treated.

The ranks of people taking antiretroviral drugs in the developing world rose by more than a million to surpass 4 million people globally, the United Nations reported on Wednesday in its 2009 progress report on HIV and AIDS.

The vast international effort on AIDS, financed by the United States, European countries and other donors, also ensured that growing numbers of children with AIDS, who had largely been left to die quick, unheralded deaths in past years, also benefited from the life-saving drug therapies. Their number rose to 275,700 in 2008 from 198,000 just a year earlier. And the portion of mothers who got medicines to prevent them from infecting their babies with HIV also rose markedly, to more than half those in need, in the parts of Africa hardest hit by the disease.

“In the space of one year, you’re seeing a huge ramping up of AIDS services,” said Mark Stirling, regional director for the United Nations’ efforts against AIDS in eastern and southern Africa. — © 2009 The New York Times News Service

More In: Comment | Opinion