UNAIDS, WHO release biannual report on global AIDS epidemic
More than 42 million people worldwide are living with HIV in 2002, an increase of 2 million over last year's figure, according to a biannual report on the worldwide AIDS epidemic released Tuesday by the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS and the World Health Organization. Five million new HIV infections occurred in 2002, with 3 million AIDS-related deaths also occurring across the globe. Women in 2002, for the first time in the history of the epidemic, became the majority of the world's HIV cases, sliding just past the 50% mark. This will "ultimately exacerbate" the epidemic, according to UNAIDS executive director Peter Piot, because most infected women live in developing countries and will likely pass the virus along to their infants through childbirth or breastfeeding. According to the report, sub-Saharan Africa still accounts for the majority of the world's HIV/AIDS cases, with about seven of every 10 HIV-positive people in the world living in the region.