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Wednesday, 1 December, 1999, 08:35 GMT
Young targeted in Aids ceremonies
Tram passengers in Bangkok are offered free condoms Tram passengers in Bangkok are offered free condoms

Ceremonies are being held around the globe to mark World Aids Day, with young people and children the focus of this year's events.

St Paul's Cathedral, one of London's most famous landmarks, was bathed in red light on Tuesday evening, launching ceremonies around the globe.

A drum beat sounded every six seconds, marking the time it takes for a new infection to occur somewhere in the world.

The Thai authorities launched an Aids-awareness campaign The Thai authorities launched an Aids-awareness campaign
In Berlin some 700 people lit candles on a red ribbon after a funeral march for the victims of Aids.

The red ribbon is symbolic of the solidarity with people who are HIV-positive, and with people who have died of Aids.

Dozens of events have been planned in the 190 countries that recognise World Aids Day, many of which will focus on teenagers and the 11.2m children orphaned by the disease.

Youth ignorence

A survey conducted by the music television station, MTV, in 11 countries, showed that more than a quarter of young people questioned knew nothing about HIV or Aids.

The United Nations estimates that more than 50 million people suffer from HIV, the virus which can lead to Aids.

Aids facts
By 2000, 16m people will have died from Aids
There are an estimated 11.2m orphans resulting from the Aids pandemic
Every 10 seconds a child or young person is infected with HIV
The vast majority of these are in developing countries, where infection rates are expected to climb still higher because of poverty.

This year, Aids deaths reached a record 2.6m with 5.6m more people becoming infected with HIV worldwide.

Health officials estimate that by the end of the year 2000, Aids will have claimed the lives of enough adults to create 13m orphans.

Africa continues to be the global epicentre of the epidemic.

The UN says 95% of all Aids orphans live in sub- Saharan Africa.

Biggest increase

Africa may be the worst afflicted continent, but legions of Aids orphans are growing elsewhere, notably in Latin America and South East Asia.

However, the biggest increase in the spread of HIV is in the states of the former Soviet Union, where the number of sufferers has doubled in the past two years.

Drug use and prostitution are on the increase in post-Soviet Russia and infections are predicted to explode further because the health systems are ill-equipped to cope.

One country that is winning international praise for its success in the fight against Aids is Brazil, which is estimated to have more than 500,000 infected with HIV.


Health authorities in the country distribute free anti-HIV drugs to all patients, which is believed to have helped reduce the number of people being hospitalised as a result of the virus.

On the eve of the World Aids Day ceremonies, 10 people were arrested in the US as hundreds of protesters charged the Clinton administration with hindering developing countries' access to Aids drugs.

Outside the White House, demonstrators accused the administration of working to preserve drug companies' profits by keeping cheaper, generic medicines out of poor countries.
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See also:
01 Dec 99 |  Africa
HIV warning for Nigeria
31 Aug 99 |  South Asia
Aids conference targets young men
12 May 99 |  Aids
Aids Africa's top killer
11 Jun 99 |  Americas
Aids on the rise among over-50s
25 Jun 99 |  World
Annan warns of Aids disaster
02 Jul 99 |  Aids
What is Aids?
01 Dec 99 |  Health
World Aids Day in pictures
12 Nov 99 |  Health
UK outlines 23m Aids package
01 Dec 99 |  Health
Warning over Aids complacency

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