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HIV/AIDS leading cause of death for young adults in Bahamas

HIV/AIDS leading cause of death for young adults in Bahamas

Increasing rates of HIV/AIDS are threatening to destroy the social fabric of the Bahamas, the country's top health official said. The terminal disease has become the leading cause of death for residents between the ages of 20 and 44, health secretary Ron Pinder told delegates at a Caribbean AIDS awareness conference Wednesday. "We have two options," Pinder said, "either completely abstain [from sex] or protect ourselves using a condom." Of the archipelago's 300,000 people, 9,764 have been diagnosed with HIV, while 4,549 people are living with full-blown AIDS, according to health officials. Over 3,000 people have died of complications from AIDS on the islands over the past two decades. The Caribbean has the second-highest rate of HIV infection in the world after sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 2.4% of residents, or 500,000--excluding Cuba, where infection rates are low--have HIV. Sub-Saharan Africa has an 8.8% infection rate.

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