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Wednesday, 24 November, 1999, 01:56 GMT
Mixed response to Africa's Aids epidemic
Eight million African children have been orphaned

By Africa correspondent, Jane Standley

Two-thirds of all the people who are HIV positive live in sub-Saharan Africa, which has only one tenth of the world's population.

But in some countries political leaders are being criticised for not supporting efforts to solve the crisis.

In parts of the far south of the continent - Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia and Zimbabwe - as much as one-quarter of the adult population is infected with the virus which causes Aids, painting a grim picture for their social and economic development.

Aids Special Report
The statistics produced on Africa by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids are terrifying.

Four people on the continent become infected every minute -- that's 11,000 every day and four million every year.

Aids has become Africa's number one killer. Last year, 5,500 people died every day, equivalent to wiping out the entire adult population of a country like Norway in just one year.

Eight million African children have been left orphaned as a result, and Aids is now the biggest threat to the development of what is already the world's poorest continent.

Official neglect

In some countries like Senegal and Uganda, in-roads have been made into the spread of the HIV virus by national campaigns spearheaded by political leaders.

But in others, little is still being said by key figures.

At an international conference on Aids in the Zambian capital two months ago, not a single African head of state turned up - not even the host president.

The distinct lack of support for the conference was criticised by Aids activists who say that, without a new political boost being given to campaigns against Aids, the education work which is being done will not succeed in bringing about the behavioural changes which are necessary.

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See also:
11 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Aids focus for summit
14 Sep 99 |  Aids
Aids statistics 'likely to be conservative'
23 Nov 99 |  Health
HIV hits 50 million
10 Nov 99 |  South Asia
India 'will be top Aids nation'
23 Sep 99 |  Aids
Drug-resistant HIV strains increasing

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