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Monday, 24 June, 2002, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK
Africans still ignorant about Aids
Durban Aids conference
Aids awareness campaigns are not working
High numbers of people in Africa and other developing countries do not realise that HIV/Aids can kill.

Even in countries with high infection rates a large majority of men and women believe they are not at risk of contracting Aids, the UN Population Division says in a report released on Sunday night.

Aids awareness
50% women unaware Aids transmitted by sex
25% people unaware HIV/Aids can kill
In some countries 90% people think they are not at risk

"Dramatic changes in sexual and reproductive awareness" are needed, the UN body states, to defeat the Aids epidemic. International campaigns have raised awareness of the disease but have not changed behaviour.

The report is based on surveys in 39 African, Asian and Latin American countries. Men and women were questioned about Aids and a high level of ignorance was revealed.

Women, Aids and sex

Half the women surveyed in Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Madagascar and Niger did not know that they could become HIV positive and develop Aids through sex.

Zambian Aids victim
More Africans will contract Aids
In half the countries surveyed between 25% and 33% of women were unaware how they could protect themselves against Aids.

Awareness of Aids and its prevention differed greatly in rural and urban areas.

The study found that less than a third of married women in villages knew about Aids. In most countries, men knew more than women about Aids and its transmission through sex.

Condoms not popular

The efforts to prevent HIV transmission through the use of condoms appear to have been a failure.

In western and central Africa, the report says, a serious difficulty in promoting the use of condoms has been the desire of women to become pregnant.

Overall "the condom has not become more popular" and greater education is need on risk prevention, according to the UN.

Some 28 million Africans live with HIV/Aids, and an estimated 2.3 million Africans died from Aids in 2001.


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