Generations of Africans to Be Affected by AIDS Pandemic: UN
November 23, 2004
Today, the annual report (also available in PDF) by the World Health Organization and UNAIDS warned that HIV/AIDS is "becoming endemic in sub-Saharan Africa." "Current high prevalence levels mean that even those countries that do eventually reverse the epidemic's course will have to contend with serious AIDS epidemics for many subsequent years. The havoc wrought by AIDS will shape the lives of several generations of Africans," said "AIDS Epidemic Update," released ahead of World AIDS Day, Dec. 1. The report said commercial sex, violence, and sexual abuse are the largest vectors of the disease in Africa.
Eastern Africa has recorded modest declines in HIV prevalence among pregnant women, and levels have remained stable in central and western Africa. This has contributed to a slight reduction in the continent's HIV prevalence to 7.4 percent of the adult population, compared to 7.5 percent in 2003.
However, HIV prevalence among pregnant women in southern Africa has jumped from 5 percent in 1990 to more than 25 percent this year. Approximately 11.4 million people in the nine countries that make up the region have HIV/AIDS, representing "almost 30 percent of the global number of people living with HIV in an area where only two percent of the world's total population resides," the report noted. South Africa has the world's highest number of people living with HIV, and Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland all have "very high HIV prevalence, often exceeding 30 percent among pregnant women," said the report.
The report cautioned that the fact that HIV rates have stabilized in some areas does not mean the epidemic there has slowed. "On the contrary, it can disguise the worst phases of an epidemic -- when roughly equally large numbers of people are being newly infected with HIV and are dying of AIDS." Even in areas of Africa where HIV prevalence has declined, it is "too early to claim that recent declines herald a definitive reversal" in the epidemic, the report said.
Agence France Presse
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.