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Tuesday, 28 November, 2000, 18:48 GMT
Africa's Aids burden
Zambian Aids victim
One in five people have HIV/Aids in some areas
Aids continues to have a far greater impact on Africa than any other continent.

The UN's "Aids Epidemic Update" reveals that of three million Aids deaths during the year 2000, 2.4 million were Africans - 80% of the total.


The Aids situation in Africa is catastrophic and sub-Saharan Africa continues to head the list as the world's most affected region.

Executive Director of UNAids Dr Peter Piot
Africa is also home to 70% of the adults and 80% of the children living with HIV in the world - just over 25 million in total.

And Africa has buried three-quarters of the more than 20 million people who have died of Aids since the epidemic began.

The picture across Africa is bleak, but it is not uniform.

In some West African countries infection rates are around 2%. In parts of Southern Africa 20% of the population has HIV/Aids.

The UN says the key difference between those countries which have managed to contain the epidemic and those that have not, is time.

Lost time

When Aids first emerged as a real threat to millions of people on the African continent two decades ago, a few countries, including Uganda, Senegal and Zambia, acted quickly to combat its spread.

Aids in Africa
25.3m have HIV/Aids
3.8m newly infected
55% HIV+ adults are women
8.8% of adults have HIV/Aids
Source: UNAids
They began health education programmes, distributed condoms and, in the case of Uganda, made same-day HIV testing available.

But many other African countries lost valuable time as the significance of the epidemic was not grasped.

The results of that early inaction are now being felt. In South Africa, and Botswana, it is estimated that at least one third of today's 15 year olds will die of Aids.

Hope?

The epidemic is having a corrosive effect on the economies of the continent which may set back its development this century.

However, the report does offer some hope.

There are signs that the annual numbers of new infections may have stabilised in sub-Saharan Africa.

But the UN says it is not clear how much this is due to successful preventive programmes in countries like Uganda, Gambia and Senegal, and how much to the impact of the disease in reducing the pool of sexually-active people who could be infected.

See also:

11 May 00 | Health
New hope in Aids fight
01 Dec 99 | Health
Warning over Aids complacency
23 Nov 99 | Health
HIV hits 50 million
04 Oct 99 | Africa
Africa on the Aids frontline
12 May 99 | Aids
Aids Africa's top killer
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