AIDS infection rate climbs

Despite an increase in funding to fight the worldwide spread of HIV/AIDS, last year’s infection rate was the highest ever and radical and innovative approaches must be devised to reverse the expansion of the disease while the epidemic is at a crossroads, a new United Nations report says.
The ”2004 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic” from the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) says it is time ”to embark boldly upon the ‘Next Agenda’ – an agenda for future action that adopts the essential, radical and innovative approaches needed for countries to reverse the course of the epidemic.”From United Nations:
UN agency calls for new approaches to fighting AIDS as infection rate increases

Despite an increase in funding to fight the worldwide spread of HIV/AIDS, last year’s infection rate was the highest ever and radical and innovative approaches must be devised to reverse the expansion of the disease while the epidemic is at a crossroads, a new United Nations report says.

The ”2004 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic” from the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) says it is time ”to embark boldly upon the ‘Next Agenda’ – an agenda for future action that adopts the essential, radical and innovative approaches needed for countries to reverse the course of the epidemic.”

If the world continues responding to the epidemic in ”its well-meaning, but haphazard and ineffectual fashion, then the global epidemic will continue to outpace the response,” it says.

In 2003, an estimated 4.8 million people – within a range of 4.2 million to 6.3 million – became newly infected with HIV. ”This is more than any one year before,” it says.

Some 37.8 million people are now living with AIDS and 20 million have died since the first cases of AIDS were identified in 1981, it says.

The world was spending an estimated $4.7 billion on combating the epidemic in 2003, but that figure was less than half what would be needed by 2005 and only a quarter of what would be needed by 2007 to mount a comprehensive response to AIDS in low- and middle-income countries, the report says.

”An unprecedented level of financial resources is now available to tackle the disease, but it is still half of what is really needed,” and the money appropriated is not being used in an effective, coordinated manner, it says.

Efforts to prevent the spread of HIV need to focus on both risky individual behaviour and on broad underlying structural factors in society, it says.

Part of the problem is that, in some instances, AIDS funding is blocked in government bank accounts, or is stalled under rules put in place by international donors, UNAIDS says.

Meanwhile, whereas those affected by the epidemic were once predominantly male, at least half are now women worldwide. Among southern Africans infected women outnumber infected males by as much as two to one in some age groups.

In other ways, women are affected by being the ones burdened with taking care of the sick and are the most likely to have to sacrifice jobs and schooling, a situation which the report highlights by including gender sections in each chapter.

Noting the factors that make women more vulnerable, it says adolescent girls must have access to information and services, violence against women must not be tolerated, women must have property rights and access to prevention options, including an eventual microbicide.

”Addressing vulnerability at the structural level includes reforming discriminatory laws and policies, monitoring practices and providing legal protections for people living with HIV,” the UNAIDS report says.

Half of all new HIV infections are now found in the 15- to 24-year-old age group, with more than 6,000 contracting the virus every day, the report says. People in the same age group will be responsible for fighting the epidemic in future, so they should now play an integral part in responding to the epidemic.


The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Have a question? Let us know.

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