HIV-infections Reach New High

HIV infection rates globally have reached a
new high according to a United Nations report released today.

Global infection rates for HIV have reached an all-time high according to a report released today by the UNAids, an entity in the United Nations system.

Despite decreases in transmittal rates in Thailand and Cambodia as a result of condom distribution and preventive education, rates in other parts of Asia and many other regions of the world continued to increase. While some nations are demonstrating success in reducing rates, the latest figures reveal the pandemic continues to eat away at the fabric of life in sub-Saharan Africa.

With ten percent of the world’s population, this region has two-thirds of those infected with HIV. Southern Africa has more than 26 million infected persons.

The crisis takes a toll in lost lives, emotional damage, destroyed communities and weakened economies. The BBC reports that “Incomes of families living with HIV drop by up to 60%, according to studies. Lost earnings and medical costs can have a devastating effect, especially if the main breadwinner falls ill or dies. Children in such families are less likely to remain at school, reducing their own future earning capacity.”

In his book, RX for Survival, Philip Hilts notes that myths about AIDS continue to impede progress in reducing the incidence of the disease in Africa, and the myths are not merely those held by Africans. They include myths that money is lost to corruption resulting in lower use of medicines and that Africans have resisted condom use and behavior change more than others.

Hilts says that, in fact, through the use of low-cost generic drugs Africans have shown notable commitment to getting drugs to affected individuals and that “on average Africans take 90 percent of their pills, compared to Americans, who take about 70 percent of their prescribed dosage.” (RX for Survival, p. 160)

Hilts says Africans are even more truthful when telling how many pills they have missed compared to Americans. (RX for Survival, p. 160)

Regarding behavior, Hilts notes that Africans and Asians not only have fewer sexual partners, they engage in sex less frequently than Americans, Germans and the French. (RX for Survival, p. 142) Hilts attributes this to differences in understanding between Africans and others about relationships and sex.

A shortfall in funding the Global AIDS Fund has sparked leaders of non-governmental organizations and the UN to call for the fulfillment of pledges to the fund. Drugs and treatment have proven effective but Yusef Azad, of the National Aids Trust of Great Britain told the BBC only one in ten persons with AIDS have been tested and know they are infected, and only 15 percent of those living in middle- and low-income countries actually get life-saving drugs. “What is needed is the political will to end this global health injustice,” Azad told the BBC.

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