AIDS Could Slash World
Population Growth, Warns UN

By Owen Bowcott
The Guardian - UK

The spread of Aids among adolescents may significantly slow the growth of the world's population, a United Nations report warned yesterday.
About 6,000 youngsters become infected with the HIV virus every day, the equivalent of one every 14 seconds, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). The majority are female.
The world's population, currently 6.3 billion, is projected to rise to 8.9 billion by 2050. If Aids-related deaths in Africa, Asia and Latin America are not checked, that figure will be cut to about 7 billion.
The difficulty in estimating future population growth is complicated by the fact that half of all Aids infections occur among those aged between 15 and 24, the next generation of parents.
There are around 1.2 billion adolescents, defined as those aged between 10 and 19, the UNFPA's annual report said. Nearly half of the world's total population is under 25.
The report said: "HIV/Aids has become a disease of young people, with young adults aged 15 to 24 accounting for half of the some 5 million new cases of HIV infection worldwide each year.
"Yet young people often lack the information, skills and services they need to protect themselves from HIV infection. Providing these is crucial to turning back the epidemic."
About 36 million people are currently living with HIV/Aids infections and by 2050 the disease is expected to have claimed as many as 278 million lives.
By 2010, it is anticipated there will be 25 million Aids orphans. The report found that 44 of the 107 countries surveyed did not include Aids education in their schools.
Longer-term projections suggested the world's population would begin to fall after 2050. There was a trend towards later marriages in many countries, a change welcomed by the agency.
But it was not universal. "[Around] 82 million girls in developing countries who are now aged 10 to 17 will be married before their 18th birthday," the report said. "In some countries, the majority of girls still marry before age 18. These include 60% in Nepal, 76% in Niger and 50% in India."
Launching the report, Thoraya Obaid, the executive director of UNFPA, said: "This report is a wake-up call for governments to increase funding and expand information and services to young people. If we do not provide the investment this will be a global catastrophe."
The report urged governments to do more to meet the development goals set at the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994.
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