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International News

African Sex Lives Getting Healthier -- AIDS Chief

May 4, 2006

In an interview today at the African AIDS summit in Nigeria, UNAIDS chief Peter Piot pointed to signs of progress in the fight against AIDS on the continent.

"What we are seeing is some serious behavior change," Piot said. "Young people start later with their first sexual intercourse. And there's a reduction in number of partners, and condom use has gone up. Billions of dollars have been invested, some would say poured, into AIDS programs in Africa, and until now there were not that many results. Now these results are coming."

In Uganda, Kenya and Zimbabwe, young people are making their sexual debut an average of two years later than in the past, Piot said. In the cities of eastern Africa, the rate of new HIV infections is falling. Some 750,000 Africans with AIDS now receive drug therapy, up from a few tens of thousands five years ago.

"I'm not trying to say we are there, but the glass is now half full," Piot said.

Credit for the progress goes to dramatically increased funding -- chiefly from the United States and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria -- as well as to African leaders' newfound openness about the epidemic, and to improved grass-roots projects.

Sustainability, however, remains a serious challenge. "We want people who are starting treatment today to still be alive in 30 years. Who is going to pay for that?" Piot asked. "If I am taking antiretrovirals and my donor stops paying for whatever reason, I am going to die within six months. What does that mean for the sovereignty of a country? In the end, as much funding as possible for treatment will have to be taken on by governmentsŠ It's a matter of priorities."

Only six African nations have approached the goal, set in 2001, of dedicating 15 percent of their budgets to health.

Back to other news for May 4, 2006

Adapted from:
05.04.06; Tom Ashby

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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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