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Editorials and Commentary

Cause for AIDS Hope, Action

September 26, 2002

"There is good news and bad news in a recent United Nations report on AIDS. ...Some nations, such as Uganda, are beginning to win the fight. But others, such as Botswana and Zimbabwe, have seen the prevalence of HIV infections soar. Still others -- notably India and China -- are just beginning to see the disease spread. Studies the Lancet predict that nearly 30 million infections can be prevented over the next eight years through sensible, low-cost measures to educate and prepare men and women to protect themselves.

"...On the good news side of the ledger, there has been a tenfold increase in the number of Africans getting antiretroviral drug therapy in the past two years. And progress is being made toward the ultimate therapy, an HIV vaccine.

"But... if prompt action is not taken, AIDS deaths will more than quadruple, to about 90 million, in the next two decades, according to the UN report. According to one of the Lancet papers, there will be 45 million new infections in the next decade alone in the absence of a major increase in education and prevention. ...A delay of only three years, from 2005 to 2008, in implementing a global AIDS education and prevention campaign, is likely to result in nearly 15 million avoidable infections.

"The costs of a campaign like the one envisioned by the Lancet studies are not trivial. ...But the toll of AIDS is measured in more than lost lives. It takes men and women at the peak of their adult years, when they are parents and breadwinners. It leaves behind millions of orphans (some tragically infected from birth). And it already threatens to wipe out a generation of development in many poor countries. Life expectancy in East Africa has been reduced by 15 years because of the AIDS pandemic. Imagine the turmoil to follow if AIDS takes hold in Asia to the same degree.

"The world cannot afford to let the AIDS pandemic run its course."

Back to other CDC news for September 26, 2002

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Adapted from:
Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.)

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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