- DURBAN, South Africa (Reuters)
- Infection with the AIDS virus could make men more amorous, which could
make them more likely to pass on the virus, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.
- A team at the University of California, Berkeley, said
they were checking out one of the basic premises behind natural selection
-- that organisms that happen to create conditions favorable to themselves
will out-compete other organisms and thus become more numerous.
- ``From an evolutionary perspective, HIV would benefit
by influencing its human host to increase sexual activity,'' they said
in a presentation to the 13th International AIDS Conference in Durban.
- Philip Starks and colleagues checked studies that measured
testosterone levels in male and female HIV patients. The hormone affects
sex drive in both men and women.
- ``Although testosterone levels generally decrease during
later stages of the disease, testosterone levels appear to be elevated
in early stages of infection for HIV positive males,'' they said.
- They did not find the same effect in women, but men needed
to be told about the risk.
- ``Males at risk, or in early stages of infection, should
be counseled that HIV infection may increase sexual desire.''
- Every Minute Six People Under Age 24 Are Infected With
- By Emelia Sithole http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20000712/ts/aids_leadall_dc_10.html
- DURBAN, South Africa (Reuters) - Every minute six people
under the age of 24 are infected with the AIDS virus and many young people
in the worst-hit countries do not know they are at risk, the UNICEF children's
agency said Wednesday.
- In its annual Progress of Nations report, UNICEF said
girls and young women worldwide were 50 percent more likely to contract
HIV than young men.
- And in sub-Saharan Africa, almost half of girls aged
15 to 19 do not know that a person who looks healthy can be carrying HIV
and pass it to them through sex.
- Meanwhile a number of scientists who are so-called ``AIDS
dissidents'' hailed South African President Thabo Mbeki for promoting debate
about whether AIDS is caused by HIV at all.
- The UNICEF report, presented to the 13th International
AIDS Conference in the South African port city of Durban, paints a grim
picture for youth in Africa, where the majority of the world's 34.5 million
people infected with HIV live.
- In Botswana, one in three women and one in seven men
aged 15 to 24 are infected with HIV. In Lesotho, South Africa and Zimbabwe,
the ratio is one in four women and one in 10 men.
- ``The HIV infection rates among young people are a searing
indictment, documenting failures of vision, commitment and action of almost
unimaginable proportions,'' the report said.
- ``They tell the story of leadership unworthy of the name
and the virtual abandonment of sub-Saharan Africa, at a time of dire need,
to a disaster that may soon engulf other regions as well.''
- ``War Of Liberation''
- UNICEF executive director Carol Bellamy urged heads of
state to lead a ``war of liberation'' against the spread of AIDS.
- ``It means mobilizing every available resource. It means
accepting the vital role to be played by young people. It means sparing
no effort and brooking no diversions until all of society is liberated,''
she told Reuters.
- Bellamy said UNICEF intended to raise the issue at the
U.N. Security Council where earlier this year the United States said AIDS
was a threat to national security and stability in Africa.
- ``We believe what's required is the largest mobilization
of resources in history,'' she said.
- The education system, which is crucial in promoting awareness
programs, is also buckling under the epidemic, particularly in sub-Saharan
Africa where an estimated 860,000 children lost their teachers to AIDS
- UNICEF said some parents were keeping their daughters
out of school for fear that they might become infected.
- ``Particularly disturbing is the evidence that large
numbers of young people in HIV-prevalent countries are not clear on how
to protect themselves,'' Bellamy added. ``Many don't know they are at risk
at all -- especially girls -- and that's a disaster.''
- A disturbing legacy of disease is the rising number of
AIDS orphans. Around 13.2 million children worldwide have lost their parents
to AIDS, and Bellamy said the number of orphans was expected to rise to
20 million in the next decade.
- Mbeki Controversial Figure
- Mbeki has courted controversy by appointing ``dissidents,''
some of whom deny that HIV leads to AIDS, to his own advisory panel and
refusing to join the overwhelming mass of scientific opinion in attributing
AIDS directly to the virus.
- ``Mbeki should be considered a hero for bringing these
issues to the forefront,'' said Lynn Gannett, a former data manager for
trials of the AZT AIDS drug.
- And Charles Geshekter, a scientist on Mbeki's panel,
told reporters estimates of nearly 34 million people living with HIV-AIDS
were hugely exaggerated:
- ``AIDS in Africa has become a catch-all word, a name
for a series of clinical symptoms for malaria, tuberculosis, dysentery.''
- Traditional healers protested at the conference Wednesday
to demand training for traditional healers in AIDS education, and the preservation
and cultivation of medicinal plants.
- Traditional healers have enormous influence over the
lives of many Africans who have limited access to modern medicines.
- A foundation set up by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates
said Wednesday it would donate $90 million for AIDS research, education
and treatment, including programs to help women protect themselves and
their children from infection.
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