Swaziland acknowledges AIDS rate for first time
Health officials in the southern African nation Swaziland acknowledged for the first time Thursday that the county has one of the world's highest AIDS prevalence rates. As of December 31, 38.6% of the nation's population was HIV-positive, ranking the country second in the world behind only Botswana, which has a 40% prevalence rate. The prevalence rate rose dramatically in just one year's time in Swaziland, up from 34.2% in January 2002, officials say. The Swaziland National AIDS Project has said that the practice of polygamy and a reluctance to use condoms are largely responsible for the disease's high prevalence in the country. "It is enormously disappointing that the education and prevention initiatives of the past year have had so little effect," said Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini. He added that antiretroviral drugs for the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission would be available in government hospitals beginning in February.