AIDS has become the fourth leading cause of death around the world, claiming millions of lives in 2001, according to a report released last December 2001 by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV-AIDS (UNAIDS). Various reports point to infectious diseases, lung and heart diseases, and cancers as top three killers.
AIDS alone killed 2.3 million people in Africa, and 235,000 in the Asia-Pacific Region. At least 60 million people have been infected by the AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) since it was discovered in the 1980s, the report said. At least 40 million are confirmed to have full-blown AIDS.
The highest incidence of HIV-AIDS infection remains Sub-Saharan Africa, with new infections estimated at 3.4 million. More infections have been traced to young and pregnant women. Latin America and the Caribbean, with an estimated 1.8 million adults and children living with AIDS, was dubbed by the report as the second most affected region in the world. AIDS remains the fastest-growing epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the report added. By 2001, this region recorded 250,000 new infections, bringing to one million the number of people living with HIV.
In Asia and the Pacific, an estimated 7. 1 million people are now living with HIV/AIDS, the report also said. A total of 440,000 HIV-AIDS cases have been recorded in the Middle East and North Africa. UNAIDS has also noted an increase in the number of HIV infections in countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, and Pakistan. There is likewise new evidence of rising HIV infection rates in high-income countries in North America, Europe and Australia.
Unsafe sex, reflected in outbreaks of sexually transmitted infections, and widespread injecting drug use are propelling these epidemics, which, at the same time, are shifting more towards deprived communities, UNAIDS said.
The UNAIDS report includes detailed statistics and descriptions of the spread of AIDS, as well as plans and strategies to combat the epidemic. To get a copy of the report, visit the
Source: WE! the newsletter of Isis International
Manila, 9 January 2002