- The global AIDS epidemic mushroomed by
10% last year, with 11 new infections a minute, a report released Monday
- All told, more than 33 million people
worldwide are infected with HIV, the AIDS virus. Half of all new infections
occur in people 15 to 24 years old, according to the annual World AIDS
Day Report by UNAIDS, the U.N. AIDS program.
- ''This is gloomy news,'' says Peter Piot,
UNAIDS director. ''We have no reason to be optimistic, though some countries
are doing well.''
- In Sub-Saharan Africa, still the epicenter
of the global pandemic, 22 million people are infected with HIV, and about
12 million people have died - 25% of them children.
- So many people are dying that experts
estimate about 5,500 funerals are held each day.
- Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe
have the highest infection rates, Piot says. Although these countries became
AIDS hot spots only recently, HIV dwells in 20% to 26% of people between
15 and 49.
- In South Africa, 3 million people are
infected, and the epidemic is growing faster than perhaps anywhere else
in the world, Piot says.
- ''We are watching something of black-plague-like
magnitude play out in our time,'' says Seth Berkley, director of the International
AIDS Vaccine Initiative, New York, noting that a vaccine is the ''best
solution'' to the pandemic.
- To speed the pace of vaccine development,
his group will announce plans this week to contribute $9 million for research
into two prototype vaccines made to combat the HIV strains now ravaging
- New AIDS drugs, too expensive for most
sufferers to afford, have eased the burden somewhat in the United States
and Western Europe, researchers say. These drugs have reduced the U.S.
death rate by 66% between 1995 and 1997.
- Prevention efforts in advanced nations
have not yet paid off. In the United States, 75,000 people became infected
in 1998, about as many as the year before. AIDS remains the leading killer
of young black men and the second leading killer of young black women.
- Among other findings: * Nearly 2 million
people are infected in Latin America and the Caribbean, with 200,000 new
infections last year. * About 270,000 people in Eastern Europe and Central
Asia are infected, with 80,000 new cases reported last year. The hot spots:
Ukraine, the Russian Federation, Belarus and Modova.