5.5 Million NEW HIV
Cases Last Year - Total
World Figure 34.3 Million
GENEVA (AFP) - Nearly 5.5 million new cases of the HIV virus were recorded last year, bringing the global number of those infected with HIV or full-blown AIDS to 34.3 million, a new report published here Tuesday by the joint United Nations programme, UNAIDS, said.
"Barring a miracle most of these will die over the next decade or so," the report noted. Some 2.8 million AIDS sufferers died in 1999, while since the beginning of the epidemic 18.8 million have died.
"Today it is clear that AIDS is a development crisis and in some parts of the world is rapidly becoming a security crisis too," UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said in the report.
"AIDS is unique in its devastating impact on the social, economic and demographic underpinnings of development," he added, highlighting the consequences the disease would have on future infant, child and maternal mortality rates, on life expectancy and economic growth.
Some 24.5 million sufferers live in sub-Saharan Africa where four million of the 5.4 million new infections were recorded in 1999.
Back in 1991, estimates put the number of those in the region expected to become infected with AIDS by the end of the decade at nine million people and the number of those likely to die at five million.
South Africa where 4.2 million people live with the HIV infection is the country with the largest number of people with the disease in the world.
Meanwhile, Asia has a lower prevalence rate compared to Africa. Prevalence is the ratio of infected people to the total adult population. Infection among the 15 to 49-year-olds has only surpassed one percent in three countries -- Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand.
In Indonesia, fewer than five out of 10,000 people live with AIDS and in the Philippines the rate is seven for every 10,000.
However, in some highly-populated countries even a weak rate of prevalence of HIV means a huge number of people live with the disease. India, for example, where seven of every 1,000 adults are infected gives it 3.7 million infections in total, or the second highest after South Africa.
In Latin America, the highest rates of infection are in the Caribbean such as Haiti where five percent of the adult population has HIV, or four percent in the Bahamas.
Honduras, Guatemala and Belize are experiencing a rapidly progressing epidemic spreading among heterosexuals, as is also the case in Brazil.
UNAIDS highlights systematic testing of HIV in Latin America is not very widespread among groups considered high risk such as homosexuals.
In eastern Europe and central Asia, drug injection poses a major risk for developing HIV. The same is true in rich countries which are also seeing a high number of infections among the homosexual community.
Following massive prevention campaigns in rich countries the rate of infection fell between the middle and the end of the 1980s, but picked up again in the late 1990s, UNAIDS said which publishes a report every two years.
The 2000 report comes ahead of an international conference on AIDS taking place in Durban, South Africa between July 9 and 14.

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