Epidemic still spreading: UN
The HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to march across the globe, with more deaths and more infections this year than ever before, says UNAIDS.india Updated: Dec 13, 2003 12:55 IST
The HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to march across the globe, with more deaths and more infections this year than ever before, according tothe latestU.N. report.
The report by UNAIDS, the U.N. agency responsible for coordinating global efforts to fight the disease, said the worldwide epidemic killed more than 3 million people in 2003. Around 5 million more acquired the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, bringing the number of people living with the virus to between 34 and 46 million. "This is an epidemic that at the start was a white middle-class gay man's disease. Today, if you use a stereotype, the face of AIDS is a young woman from Africa," Dr. Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS, told a news conference in London.
The report said the epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa remains rampant - an estimated 26.6 million of the continent's people are now living with HIV- and a new wave of epidemics is threatening China, Indonesia and Russia because of transmission through injecting drug use and unsafe sex.
UNAIDS said the global response to the crisis had expanded significantly in the past two to three years, with spending on anti-retroviral medication and education increasing in many countries.
"However, it is quite clear that our current global efforts remain entirely inadequate for an epidemic that is continuing to spiral out of control," said Piot. "AIDS is tightening its grip on southern Africa and threatening other regions of the world." The report said that anti-retroviral treatment coverage remains dismal in sub-Saharan Africa, and basic knowledge of HIV/AIDS is still disturbingly low in many countries, especially among women.
Voluntary counseling and testing services are all but absent in many countries and only 1 per cent of pregnant women in heavily affected countries have access to services aimed at preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission, the report said. A report by the Washington-based International Center for Research on Women said that stigma and discrimination continues to impede testing, prevention and treatment for women in Africa.