Jul 21, 2017 Last Updated 2:00 PM, Jul 21, 2017

Deaths linked to Aids have halved in a decade, official figures shows.

The condition, which is caused by HIV, used to be one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.

A report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids) showed deaths had fallen from a peak of 1.9 million in 2005 to 1 million last year.

It said the "scales have tipped", with more than half of people getting drug treatment for the first time.

An HIV infection cannot be cured - it can only be contained with daily doses of antiretroviral therapy.

Unchecked, it destroys the immune system, causing Aids. At this point people tend to die from other "opportunistic infections" such as tuberculosis.

Worldwide, 36.7 million are living with HIV and 53% of them are getting the therapy that gives a near-normal life expectancy.

Michel Sidibe, the executive director of UNAids, said: "We met the 2015 target of 15 million people on treatment and we are on track to double that number to 30 million and meet the 2020 target.

"We will continue to scale up to reach everyone in need and honour our commitment of leaving no-one behind."

UNAids said eastern and southern Africa were "leading the way" and had cut new HIV infections by nearly a third since 2010.

Life expectancy has increased by 10 years over the past decade too.

The agency has set a series of goals known as the 90-90-90 targets.

The aim is for 90% of people with HIV to be diagnosed, 90% of those to get therapy and 90% of those to have their infection suppressed, by 2020.

In 2016 the figures were 70%, 77% and 82% respectively.

Mr Sidibe added: "Communities and families are thriving as Aids is being pushed back."

However, the agency warned that inadequate treatment in north Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe had seen death rates increase sharply.

Six teenagers from Burundi taking part in a robotics competition in the US have been reported missing, police say.

Four boys and two girls - aged from 16 to 18 - disappeared during the First Global Challenge tournament in Washington DC.

The DC Police Department says they were last seen on Tuesday - on the closing day of the competition.

Reports say two of the teenagers have since crossed into Canada but this has not been confirmed by the police.

On Thursday, the DC Police Department posted fliers of the missing group on its Twitter page, asking members of the public to get in touch if they had any information.

The teenagers were identified as Don Ingabire, 16, Kevin Sabumukiza, 17, Nice Munezero, 17, Audrey Mwamikazi, 17, Richard Irakoze, 18, and Aristide Irambona, 18.

Competition organisers say they alerted police after Burundi's team supervisor was unable to find the teenagers.

In a statement, First Global Challenge spokesman Jose Escotto said "the proper reports have been submitted to the police who are investigating the case", according to the Washington Post.

The three-day robotics competition saw teams from 150 nations compete against each other.

The event aims to inspire young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths.

However, it made the news earlier this month after a team of girls from Afghanistan were initially not allowed to attend the competition because of visa problems.

But US President Donald Trump stepped in at the last minute and the girls were able to travel to the US and participate.

The Afghan team later won a silver medal for courageous achievement, which was awarded to teams "that exhibit a can-do attitude throughout the challenge, even under difficult circumstances, or when things do not go as planned".

The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will be held in June and July, the Confederation of African Football has confirmed.

The tournament is usually held in January and February, causing disputes with European clubs who had to release players in the middle of the season.

The 2019 event in Cameroon will be contested by 24 teams, instead of 16.

The changes were rubber-stamped by the CAF executive committee in a meeting in the Moroccan capital Rabat.

Africa's flagship sporting event has featured 16 teams since 1996.

The expansion of the tournament could create problems for Cameroon, which will host the next finals, with the Central African nation's sports minister having to deny reports that preparations were behind schedule.

The competition will continue to be held every two years, in Africa and only with African countries. Caf was considering whether to allow countries from other continents to compete - or even host the tournament.

The announcements follow a two-day symposium organised by Caf president Ahmad to discuss the state of African football.

Top of Form

Dramatic changes to Africa's top competition now await rubber-stamping by the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) after recommendations made at a conference in Morocco on Wednesday.

The showpiece Africa Cup of Nations finals is set to be expanded and its contentious timing changed, but its frequency will remain every two years.

The tournament is likely to be moved to June and July, instead of January and February, and will increase from 16 to 24 teams.

The two annual club competitions - the African Champions League and African Confederation Cup - are likely to run from August to May rather than inside a calendar year, as has been the case for decades.

Changes to refereeing structures, coaching standards and medical preparedness were also recommended.

Caf's executive committee meets in Rabat on Thursday and is expected to formalise all the major recommendations.

"From a sporting perspective, it will allow more opportunity for footballers across the continent," said Nigerian Football Federation president Amaju Pinnick.

The insistence the Nations Cup should stay in January, which has often infuriated European clubs as they lose their African players during the season, could soon be a thing of the past.

But Africa's flagship sporting event will still be played every two years as the tournament is a leading source of revenue for Caf, which would lose half of that money should the finals be played every four years, as some proposed.

There was no opposition to the change of the timing of the finals, which will please African players based at European clubs, who are regularly involved in a club-versus-country row every two years.

The increase in the number of finalists is an attempt to increase marketing and TV revenue, talking a leaf out of the book of Uefa whose European Championship increased in size in 2016.

"It will increase revenue for Caf and we can triple our income," added Pinnick. "It will also force more infrastructure development."

The symposium also recommended that requirements for hosting the Nations Cup must be increased, particularly around the issue of pitches and hotels, whose poor quality has drawn heavy criticism at recent finals.

This year's expansion of the number of clubs in the Champions League and Confederation Cup has meant the top teams in Africa have been forced to play group matches between May and July.

Usually, many of these sides would be enjoying end-of-season holidays prior to preparing for a new campaign.

The criticism of the dates has led to the recommendation that the Champions League and Confederation Cup will run from August to May - possibly as early as next year.

Similar to the European Champions League, the group phase would be finished by the end of year to allow the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals to be completed by May.

Suspected Boko Haram fighters have been "brutally tortured" by security forces in Cameroon, a rights group says.

Amnesty International said in a report that the suspects, including women and children, were beaten, water-boarded and forced into stress positions.

The cases allegedly happened between 2013 and 2017, and dozens of detainees died as a result, it added.

Cameroon's government has not commented. Boko Haram frequently carries out attacks in the country.

The Islamist group, based in neighbouring Nigeria, has killed more than 1,500 civilians in Cameroon since 2014, and abducted many others, Amnesty said.

Victims described a least 24 methods of torture at more than 20 different sites, the report said.

In one of those places, it said, there was the presence of US and French military personnel. There was no evidence that foreign forces were involved, but Amnesty urged both countries to investigate the allegations.

The report added that people suspected of supporting the militants were often being detained without evidence.

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