- GENEVA (Reuters) - An estimated
5.3 million people worldwide became infected with HIV/AIDS this year, but
for the first time the number of new infections in sub-Saharan Africa seems
to have stabilized, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.
- However, AIDS morbidity (contraction of the fatal disease)
and mortality rates in sub-Saharan Africa increased in 2000, offsetting
the good news on infection rates, the United Nations health agency said.
- The impoverished region of some 40 countries remains
hardest hit by the deadly pandemic, accounting for an estimated 3.8 million
or 72 percent of the new cases during the past year, WHO said in its Weekly
- Worldwide, the number of adults and children living with
HIV/AIDS is estimated to reach 36.1 million people by year-end, split almost
equally between men and women.
- "...HIV/AIDS continues to spread in all regions
of the world,'' the Geneva-based WHO said. ``It is also estimated that
during 2000, 5.3 million people (including 600,000 children aged less than
15 years old) became infected.''
- By year-end, an estimated 21.8 million adults and children
will have died from the fatal disease worldwide since the pandemic's onset
two decades ago, it added. The toll includes an estimated three million
victims this year.
- WHO and UNAIDS are to launch their full annual AIDS report
- Sub-Saharan Africa Worst Hit
- Sub-Saharan African countries, where transmission is
primarily by heterosexual contact, account for 25.3 million of the total
36.1 million living victims.
- WHO painted a mixed picture of the region, home to about
one-tenth of the world's total population.
- ``For the first time, the estimated number of new infections
in sub-Saharan Africa appears to have stabilized,'' WHO said.
- ``An estimated 3.8 million people were newly infected
with HIV in 2000 as opposed to a total of four million during 1999.''
- But it added: ``The positive sign of a decrease in new
infections in sub-Saharan Africa is offset by the increase in AIDS morbidity
- Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast and Uganda have
reported the highest number of cumulative cases on the continent.
- Sex Trade, Drugs Boost Asian Infections
- Asia and the Pacific countries follow with a total estimated
6.4 million adults and children living with HIV/AIDS, including more than
900,000 new cases this year, WHO said.
- ``Sex trade, use of illicit drugs, rates of sexually
transmitted infections and large population movements continue to increase
in this region,'' it added.
- New Infections Steady In Rich Countries
- Thousands of people continue to become infected in North
America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Yet the availability
of anti-retroviral drugs in these industrialized countries continues to
slow the virus's progression to full-blown AIDS and death, according to
- However, the number of new HIV infections in these countries
has remained ``relatively constant'' over the past years, it said.
- Canada and the United States have an estimated 920,000
people living with HIV/AIDS, including an estimated 45,000 new cases this
year, according to WHO.
- Western Europe, home to 540,000 victims, had an estimated
30,000 new infections. Australia and New Zealand have an estimated 15,000
people living with the virus or disease.
- New infections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, mostly
among injecting drug users, jumped by an estimated 250,000, causing a 60
percent rise in the regional total of people living with HIV/AIDS to 700,000,
according to WHO.
- North Africa and the Middle East had an estimated 80,000
new cases last year, bringing the regional total of infections to 400,000
adults and children, it added.
- Latin America, led by Brazil, has 1.4 million people
living with HIV/AIDS, while the Caribbean has nearly 40,000.
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