A global Aids epidemic of biblical proportions continues to
gather momentum, a new report warned today.Aids, has grown from an obscure
specialist medical term to a world-wide health crisis, transforming the way
millions of people live, and die, across the globe.Acquired Immune Deficiency
Syndrome, has claimed 24 million lives, since it was first recognised 21 years
ago. (AFP file photo)...
Five million people contracted the HIV virus this year
The aids virus is eating away at the human population. There is no cure
but medicine can significantly postpone one's eventual death; that is if you
have the $10 thousand per year to buy the drugs. Most of the people in the
developing world don't have that kind of money.
India and Asia are catching up with Africa with regards to infection rates.
In the meantime, we tend to think that Aids is not our problem: just God
thinning out the world wide population of sinners.
Somewhere down the road, I am sure that we are going to see open hostility
directed toward the carriers of the disease.
There is a great purging going on in the human society and nobody really cares
or they sit silently in their apathetic self righteousness.
November 26, 2002
The Relentless Spread of Aids
By Pat Hurst, PA News News.scotsman.com
A global Aids epidemic of biblical proportions
continues to gather momentum, a new report warned today.
Aids, has grown from an obscure specialist medical term to a
world-wide health crisis, transforming the way millions of people
live, and die, across the globe.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, has claimed 24 million lives,
since it was first recognised 21 years ago.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), the virus which can cause Aids, is
transmitted through body fluids, in particular blood, semen, vaginal
secretions and breast milk. HIV weakens the human body’s immune
system, making it difficult to fight infection.
It is now a global crisis gathering momentum with another 42 million
currently infected with HIV, the virus commonly believed to cause
Five million people were newly-infected this year alone, and 3.1
million people were killed by Aids in the past 12 months.
Billions of dollars have been spent but there is still no vaccine and
no cure. Aids was seen as a gay disease when it was first noted in the
developed world, in San Francisco and New York.
In the UK, Edinburgh for a time became the Aids capital of Europe, as
the disease was passed on by drug users sharing dirty needles.
The total estimated number of people living with HIV in the UK at the
end of 2000 was 33,500. Of those, about 30% were believed to be
unaware of their infection. The last two years saw the highest annual
increases in new HIV diagnoses since records began.
The worst affected countries though are in Africa and Asia. An
estimated 6,000 people each day die of Aids in Africa, which has 23
million people having contracted the virus.
UNAIDS estimates that in low and middle-income countries alone,
effective prevention and care programmes will require 10.5 billion US
dollars (£6 billion) each year by 2005 and 15 billion US dollars (£10
billion) each year from 2007 onwards.
Half of all Aids victims are now women
By David Firn
Published: November 26 2002 14:34 | Last Updated:
November 26 2002 14:34
Aids is no longer a predominantly male disease. Women now
account for half of all those living with HIV. In the last 12
months 5m people have become infected with HIV, bringing the total
number of people with Aids or infected with HIV worldwide to 42m,
including 3.2m children, according to the latest report from UNAids,
the joint United Nations Programme set up to tackle the disease.
But among the depressing statistics on HIV's relentless global
spread there is encouraging evidence that prevention programmes
work even in the poorest countries.
As Aids continues to ravage southern Africa and extends its
hold in Asia and Eastern Europe heterosexual transmission of the
incurable virus is becoming much more common says Peter Piot, the
head of UNAids, and one of the nominees to be the next head of the
World Health Organisation. "Ten years ago this was a white,
gay man's disease. We have reached gender equality, a sad one. For
the first time women comprise 50 per cent of the global epidemic.
The face of Aids - especially in Africa - is more and more the
face of a woman," he says.
As Aids ravage the working population of southern Africa there
are signs that the disease is fuelling famine across the
continent. The rampant epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, is
responsible for famine in Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, Dr Piot
says. Infection rates of over 30 per cent of the population - far
higher than once thought possible - have taken their toll on the
workforce. "For the first time we are starting to see the
society wide impact of Aids in southern Africa," Dr Piot
There is also evidence that the window of opportunity for
controlling the spread of HIV Asia and Eastern Europe is rapidly
closing. The sheer size of the population in India and China means
they could well be the countries most affected by Aids at the end
of the decade. Almost 1m people acquired HIV in Asia and the
Pacific this year, a 10 per cent increase since 2001.
But the HIV epidemic is not confined to developing countries
and economies in transition. In developed countries young people
are no longer heeding warnings about unsafe sex and women are now
as likely to catch HIV as men. In areas of the US where there is
confidential HIV testing women accounted for the majority of new
infections last year. A disproportionate number were
African-American, reflecting the epidemic's shift from the
affluent gay population into poorer and marginalised groups.
The situation in the UK is similar to the US, and heterosexual
transmission has increased fourfold in Ireland since 1998. Dr Piot
says the re is a growing need for specialised programmes aimed at
preventing women becoming infected, including development of
microbicides women can use to prevent infection during unprotected
In Japan, where HIV infection remains relatively low, there is
a worrying trend of casual sex among sukusutomo, or 'sex friends'.
Nearly 40 per cent of new infections in Japan were among
teenagers, who seem to be turning their backs on condoms following
the recent legalisation of the contraceptive pill.
But Dr Piot says prevention programmes work, even in some of
the poorest countries. Early intervention in Senegal has headed
off an epidemic and HIV infection is falling in Thailand and
Uganda after massive aids awareness campaigns.
Infection rates are also falling among young mothers in South
Africa, although rate remain stubbornly high among older women.
The situation is similar in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia,
where infection among young women is down by more than a third.
But rates remain high elsewhere in the country. "We have now
finally real empirical evidence that prevention works,
particularly in young people in poor countries," Dr
Piot says. "The benefits of prevention efforts are always
seen first among young people. We don't know why but it seems it
harder to change the sexual behaviour of a 40 year old."
Despite deep cuts in the price of Aids drugs and agreements
allowing developing countries to import cheap generic copies of
key medicines money remains the biggest barrier to controlling the
spread of Aids in poor countries. UNAids forecasts $2.5bn will be
spent on aids in low and middle income countries this year, a 50
per cent rise on 2001. Dr Piot says spending must reach $15bn-a
year by 2007 and stay at that level for at least a decade to halt
the spread of the virus and care for the victims and orphans of
Aids. Meanwhile funding remains well below the levels promised by
the industrialised nations.
Even the Global fund to Fight Aids TB and Malaria, a
public-private partnership set up amid great fanfare last year is
struggling to win financial backing for its radical plans to
tackle Aids. But even if the funds were in place Dr Piot admits
most poor countries lack the management skills to administer the
necessary treatment. "Africa was in denial [about HIV]. That
has largely overcome, but if someone were to write a cheque today
it would not be possible to spend it," Dr Piot says.
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