HIV/Aids

25 November 2009

Africa leads global HIV infections

Sub-Saharan Africa still has the world's highest number of HIV cases, accounting for 67% of global infections, a United Nations reports said.

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Sub-Saharan Africa still has the world's highest number of HIV cases, accounting for 67% of global infections, a United Nations reports said.

"An estimated 1.9 million people were newly infected with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa in 2008, bringing to 22.4 million the number of people living with HIV," the UNAIDS agency said in a statement.

Women and girls remain the worst affected in the region, accounting for 60% of the overall HIV infections.

Africa's economic power house, South Africa, remains home to the world's largest population of people living with the virus, with 5.7 million cases recorded in 2007.

But the report highlighted an increased use of condom use by South African males during their first sexual encounter, up from 31.3% in 2001 to 64.8% in 2008.

Swaziland still hard hit
The prevalence of the virus in East African countries appear to be stabilising, with Burundi and Kenya showing a decline in infection rates.

The agency has attributed the improvement to increased access to treatment and changes in sexual behaviour.

It also noted that by the end of 2008, 44% of adults and children had access to treatment, compared with only two% covered five years ago.

But South African's impoverished neighbour, Swaziland, still has one of the most severe levels of infections in the region, with 26 percent of the 1.1 million afflicted by the disease.

Swaziland's HIV treatment is not easily available to all people living with the virus.

According to the agency, Aids deaths in the sub-Saharan region have left 14 million orphans. – (Sapa, November 2009)

 

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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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