AIDS still ravages Africa, UN says
GENEVA, June 27 (Reuters) - The HIV/AIDS epidemic
continues to ravage Africa, where one in five adults is
living with the deadly virus in some states, the United
Nations said on Tuesday.
In Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, at least
one in every two 15-year-old boys will die of AIDS,
according to a grim report by the UNAIDS programme.
In the West, gay men in New York, San Francisco,
Sydney and London have become complacent, engaging
in unprotected sex, often with multiple partners, the report
But it saw glimmers of hope, noting HIV/AIDS rates had
stabilised in most high-income countries due to
awareness campaigns and better treatment. And infection
rates had dropped in a few developing nations, including
Thailand and Uganda.
"A lot of progress has been made, but it is unfortunately
not everywhere," Peter Piot, executive director of the joint
U.N. Programme on HIV/AIDS, told a news conference in
"In the West...the impact of treatment has been
spectacular. Mortality has really collapsed from AIDS.
There is really a much better and longer life for people
70 PERCENT OF VICTIMS IN AFRICA
The picture in sub-Saharan Africa was very different.
There, four million people were infected last year alone --
making up the bulk of the 5.4 million new cases
"The lifetime risk of dying from AIDS has become really
incredibly high in several countries," Piot said.
In South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, today's 15 year
olds are more likely than not to die of AIDS.
Africa will need between $1.6 billion and $2.6 billion to
step up prevention programmes just to contain the
epidemic, said Piot, who backed debt-relief for the
AIDS is the fourth biggest killer worldwide. About 18.8
million people have perished since 1983, including 2.8
million last year, according to the report.
"Nearly twice that many -- 34.3 million -- are now living
with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Barring a miracle,
most of these will die over the next decade or so," the
The epidemic has orphaned about 13.2 million children.
About 24.5 million or 70 percent of victims are in
sub-Saharan Africa. The highest number -- 4.2 million --
are in in South Africa, the region's most populous country.
The report listed 16 countries where over 10 percent of the
15-49 age-group were infected with HIV: Botswana,
Burundi, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ivory
Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia,
Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In seven countries, all in the southern cone of Africa, at
least one adult in five was living with the virus. Hardest hit
was Botswana at 35.8 percent, followed by Swaziland,
Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Zambia, South Africa and Namibia.
ASIAN RATES MISLEADING
In Asia, only three countries -- Cambodia, Myanmar and
Thailand -- have rates exceeding one percent HIV infection
among 15-49-year-olds, according to the 135-page U.N.
report. But even low rates mean that huge numbers of
Asians live with the virus.
In India, for example, only seven adults in 1,000 are
infected, but this translates into a total 3.7 million people,
more than in any other country except South Africa. In
China, an estimated 500,000 people live with HIV/AIDS,
mainly drug users.
"It may be just a matter of time before infections reach a
critical level...Certainly there is no room for
complacency," the report said.
Sexual behaviour was a major cause of HIV infection in
much of Latin America and the Caribbean, but the region's
macho culture often led to neglect of the problem.
In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the HIV epidemic
was concentrated among injecting drug users. An
outbreak among users around Moscow last year resulted
in 16,000 new infections, more than in the previous six
An estimated 850,000 Americans have HIV/AIDS, with an
average of 40,000 more joining them each year, according
to Piot. Some 49,000 Canadians are currently infected.
In Europe, France has the highest number of people living
with HIV/AIDS (130,000), followed by Spain (120,000) and
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