AIDS Epidemic
Gathers Momentum
News Bulletin
UNITED NATIONS(Reuters) - Aids cases soared worldwide to 30 million adults and children in 1997 with researchers saying they had grossly underestimated the rate of infection, now at about 16,000 a day.
The sharp climb -- from 22.6 million people in 1996 -- is due to new methods of collecting data as well as an actual 19 percent increase in the results, said a report by UNAIDS, a joint program of U.N. specialized agencies, released Wednesday.
But the increase, the survey said, is still 19 percent in 1997 over 1996 for all people infected with HIV or victims of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), even when the new reporting methods are taken into account.
``We are now realizing that rates of HIV transmission have been grossly underestimated -- particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where the bulk of infections have been concentrated,'' said Dr Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS.
``If current transmission rates hold steady, by the year 2000, the number of people living with HIV or AIDS will soar to 40 million,'' he said.
In 1997 alone, people who became infected for the first time swelled from 3.1 million children and adults to 5.8 million, an actual increase of 9 percent, according to the new estimates.
The report said that some 2.3 million people died of AIDS in 1997 -- a 50 percent increase over 1996. Nearly half those deaths were women and 460,000 were children under 15.
For children, the report estimates that 1,600 under 15 are infected with HIV every day compared to 1,000 children a day last year.
The new figures show that the number of people estimated to be living with HIV or AIDS include 20.6 million in sub-Saharan Africa, 6 million in South and Southeast Asia and 1.3 million in Latin America and 530,000 in Western Europe.
The worst affected is sub-Sahara Africa where HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) cases increased by an alarming 7.4 percent among people between 15 and 49 years of age.
In contrast the rate of new AIDS cases is expected to drop about 30 percent in Western Europe in 1997, with only Portugal and Greece still showing substantial rises.
And new figures from the United States indicate the rate of AIDS will drop by 11 percent in 1997 after decreasing 6 percent last year.
The survey, however, still pointed to many countries in the world where reporting was faulty or non-existent, making it unclear how long the new estimates would be valid.
Among the 30 million people currently living with HIV, most of them have no idea they are infected, particularly in the developing world where the epidemic is concentrated.
HIV testing in many countries is done mostly for purposes of surveillance rather than treatment, which is scarce. Few people have any hope of treatment, so they feel little incentive to get tested, the report said.
Southern African continues to be the worst affected area. South Africa estimated 2.4 million of its citizens were living with HIV. Botswana figures have doubled and Zimbabwe estimates the infection as high as one in every five adults.
Uganda, the first country in Africa to institute a far-reaching AIDS prevention program, has shown some results with rates dropping about a fifth in 1997 compared to the previous year, particularly among younger age groups practicing safer sex.

AIDS Decimating Africa;
Surging In India

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) - The AIDS virus has become widespread in some regions, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where 19 million people are infected - the highest incidence in the world, said Dr. Elhadj as Sy, head of the Joint U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS.
``The epidemic's impact in terms of suffering, orphanhood and widowhood, family and community impoverishment, increasing burden on health care systems, falling life expectancy and rising mortality rates is truly frightening,'' Sy told an International Planned Parenthood conference.
About 25 percent of adults in Botswana are infected with the AIDS virus, 22 percent in Zimbabwe and 19 percent in Namibia, he said, adding that in some southern African cities, more than 40 percent of pregnant women were infected.
Almost a quarter of all HIV victims live in Asia, with India alone having an estimated 6 million or more, he said. The HIV infection rate in the region doubled in the last three years and could double again by the end of the century, in just the next two years.
``If the curve persists, the Asian epidemic will dwarf all others,'' he said.
Note: Dr. Robert Strecker, years ago, stated that he expected the AIDS epidemic to double about every 18-24 months. To see where this epidemic is headed in India, for example, double the number six every two years for the next 10 years and see what happens.


"Cocktail Drugs" Fail To
Reach All Cell HIV
$75,000 Yearly Cost Per Patient. Hopes For Cure Dim
By Paul Recer
Associated Press 11-14-97
(Note: Dr. Carey Savitch, MD, author of "The Nutcracker Is Already Dancing" and who has treated AIDS patients since 1981, has long stated, "In every single case, as soon as the cocktail drugs are discontinued, the T-Cell count goes right back down." This story validates his position.)
WASHINGTON - The multi-drug "coctail" that revolutionized the treatment of AIDS is unable to wipe out reserviors of HIV hiding in certain dormant blood cells. This finding means that patients may have to take these powerful AIDS "cocktail" drugs for the rest of their lives at a current cost of about $75,000 per year per patient while hoping for new types of more powerful drugs to stamp out the remaining traces of HIV infection. (Note: Multiply the approximately 3 million HIV-infected Americans by $75,000 per year. -ed) Three separate teams of scientists reported finding evidence that HIV lurks in inactive white cells in patients who have been taking the drug cocktail for up to three years and seem otherwise virtually free of the virus. It is believed that when the 'resting' blood cells were awakened, as by a new infection, the DNA of the cells would start making new HIV and the cycle of AIDS infection would begin all over again.
Find out more...

Email Homepage