News24, 27 November 2002, As many women as men HIV+
The report, presented
The virus is spreading
most rapidly in
But there are signs of hope. The Aids Epidemic Update, an annual report by the World Health Organisation and UNAids, gives the first signal that prevention programmes are working in the few areas where they have been set up.
"There are a number of countries where we have strong empirical evidence that rates of infection are declining, and in each case they are declining among young people," said Dr Peter Piot, executive director of UNAids.
"We have examples
"This positive trend is the first signal that there is an impact of the prevention and education programmes," Piot said.
HIV continues its sweep
However, those successes are isolated cases and HIV continues its sweep.
"It's once more a sad story - 42 million people living with HIV today, 5 million new infections in 2002 and 3.1 million died from Aids this year," Piot said.
There is not only an increase in the sheer number of people being infected, but also an increase in the number of countries now facing pandemics, said Dr Bernhard Schwartlander, director of the HIV/Aids division at the World Health Organisation.
All the countries in
"We have seen that no society is immune," Schwartlander said. "Even though HIV was quite well established in many Asian countries very early on, we had seen a very stable low rate in a number of countries. It was just at the point in time where people were starting to think maybe these societies are immune. We have been shown different."
In 2001, between 6 percent and 11% of young women aged between 15 and 24 had HIV, compared with between 3 percent and 6 percent of young men in the same age group.
Shift towards women will exacerbate spread of HIV
It is particularly difficult for women there to follow prevention recommendations because of their subordinate position in society in many regions.
A recent study found
The phenomenon of intergenerational sex is driving much of the pandemic in Southern Africa, where between one-quarter and one-third of older men are HIV-positive.
The shift towards women will ultimately exacerbate the spread of HIV, Piot said, because from women it can be spread not only through sex, but through breast-feeding. HIV drugs prevent the spread from mothers to babies.
The report also found
that the new dynamics of the HIV epidemic aggravate the famine in sub-Saharan
"Aids is fuelling
the food crisis in sub-Saharan
director of the Health Economics and HIV/Aids Research Division at the
The virus is causing
an economic crisis in
"In a situation where life expectancy has plummeted it's very hard to keep them engaged in a future when they don't believe they have one," Whiteside said. - Sapa-AP.