The Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic
Questions such as those raised in the preceding section apply to regions of the world beyond Africa. Additionally, many issues beyond the scope of this article -- including orphans, the sex trade, mobile populations, and care of the ill and dying -- are profoundly entwined with the HIV epidemic worldwide and merit mention.
The number of orphans resulting from AIDS mortality is large and expected to increase rapidly in the near future. The current estimate of over 11 million orphans, most of whom are in Africa, may well be an underestimate, and it will certainly increase in the future. Regarding the sex trade, it has long been known that sex workers are particularly at risk of HIV infection. However, trafficking and sexual indenturing of young women in many parts of Asia, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere is increasingly gaining international notice. Mobile populations, which include all those who cross borders and move within a country, such as workers (farm workers, truck drivers, fishermen), traders, and refugees, are believed to have significantly contributed to the sexual spread of HIV throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Finally, in Africa and other developing regions of the world, one of the most profound challenges of the spreading HIV/AIDS pandemic is how to care for the millions of people infected with and affected by the virus.
All of these issues and many more must be faced in the decade ahead. In order to find solutions, political, business, social, and scientific communities worldwide will have to develop an integrated and cooperative approach.
Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH, is Assistant Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies of the University of California, San Francisco.
This article was provided by San Francisco AIDS Foundation. It is a part of the publication Bulletin of Experimental Treatments for AIDS. Visit San Francisco AIDS Foundation's Web site to find out more about their activities, publications and services.