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The BBC's Helen Wade
"The report paints an alarming picture"
 real 28k

The BBC's Claire Doole
"The economic and social impact of Aids is devastating"
 real 28k

Bernhart Schwartlander, author of UN report
"People simply try to ignore it"
 real 28k

Salim Karim of the Medical Research Council, Durban
"A crisis and calamity on a scale we have never witnessed"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 00:09 GMT 01:09 UK
Aids to kill 'one in two Africans'
Zambian aids patient
The UN is cutting life expectancy rates in Africa
The Aids virus will kill half of all young adults in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, according to a shocking new report by the United Nations.

Aids Special Report
It says that the virus is wreaking social and economic havoc on the worst affected nations.

In the Central African Republic there has been widespread closure of schools because so many teachers have died of an Aids-related illness.

There is a whole generation which is being taken out

Peter Piot, UNAids
The UN says that $4bn is needed annually to contain the epidemic, which it says has claimed 19 million lives.

The report also warns against complacency in wealthy countries where it says there are continuing high levels of infection among young homosexual men and drug addicts.

Devastated societies

More than five million people were infected with Aids last year, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

Infection rates have spiralled to more than one in ten of the population in many of these countries.

The UN says this is slashing life expectancy rates.

In South Africa and Zimbabwe Aids is set to claim the lives of around half of all 15 year olds - in Botswana the toll is even higher.

The economic and social impact is devastating, with schools losing teachers, and businesses workers, to the disease.

"The probability that you die from Aids when you are 15 today is over 50% in some countries," UN Joint Program on HIV/Aids (UNAids) executive director Peter Piot said.

UNAids facts
34 million people infected with Aids or HIV worldwide
24 million in Sub-Saharan Africa
5.4 million new cases recorded in 1999
19 million recorded Aids deaths so far
"We are going into societies where there are more people in their 60s and 70s than there are in their 40s and 30s. This is unheard of," Mr Piot said.

Vulnerable countries in Asia, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean risk a similar catastrophe unless they take urgent action to contain spiralling infections, the report says.

The UN has called for a massive increase in funding for anti-Aids programmes.

"It is really important that money becomes available now, and not in 10 years, because the longer we wait, the higher the bill will be, not only, because this is for prevention and basic care, but the care bill will become dramatically bigger," Mr Piot said.

Aids denial

Denial of the seriousness of the Aids epidemic continues to be a problem. The UN report cites a 1999 survey in a hard-hit Kenyan rural community among 72 children orphaned by Aids.

Funeral in Zambia
The funeral in Zambia of a two-year-old Aids victim
Although all knew of the disease, none of them believed their parents had died of it. Most blamed witchcraft or curses.

The report claims contains some success stories. The UN says it is possible to slow the epidemic.

It says tough anti-Aids campaigns in Brazil, Uganda and Thailand have all reaped rewards. These include a significant drop in infection rates, and an increase in life expectancy for HIV sufferers.

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See also:

26 Jun 00 | Africa
At the heart of an epidemic
06 May 00 | Africa
South Africa tackles Aids
20 Feb 00 | Health
Gene therapy 'advance' for Aids
12 Jan 00 | Health
HIV drug regimes 'too tough'
29 Mar 00 | Health
HIV risk claim worries experts
26 May 00 | Health
Aids sceptics 'are wrong'
20 Apr 00 | Africa
Drug data backs HIV-Aids link
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