The global HIV
epidemic is growing, leaving an estimated 39.5 million
people worldwide infected with the deadly virus, the United
Nations said Tuesday.
AIDS has claimed
2.9 million lives this year, and another 4.3 million
people became infected with HIV, according to the U.N.'s
AIDS epidemic update report, published on Tuesday.
Spread of the disease was most noticeable in East
Asia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.
AIDS has killed
more than 25 million people since the first case was
reported in 1981, making it one of the most destructive
illnesses in history.
"In a short
quarter of a century AIDS has drastically changed our
world," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said at a staff
meeting Monday in Geneva. "AIDS, tuberculosis, and
malaria make up the deadliest triad the world has
But he said
improvement in treatment, more resources, and higher
political commitment over the past 10 years give rise to
The joint report
by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization acknowledged
that access to HIV/AIDS treatment has made a great leap
forward in recent years, enabling many infected people
to live longer. But it said much remained to be done,
especially in prevention.
Africa--with 63%, or 24.7 million, of the world's
infected people--bears the highest burden, but
in East Asia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, there
are 21% more people living with HIV than two years
The virus spread
fastest in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with a
nearly 70% increase in new infections over the past two
years. In South and Southeast Asia, the number of new
infections has grown by 15% since 2004, while it rose
by 12% in North Africa and the Middle East. In Latin
America, the Caribbean, and North America it remained
All regions of
the world have had an increase in the number of people
living with the deadly virus over the past two years, the
report said. In some countries this was due to better
access to medicine keeping people alive longer.
Never before have
so many women been infected with HIV. There are 17.7
million women worldwide carrying the virus, an increase of
more than 1 million compared with two years earlier.
The proportion of women among the infected is
particularly striking in sub-Saharan Africa, where they
account for 59% of the people with HIV/AIDS.
doesn't break down the estimates country by country, but it
said the United States--for which figures were
available for 2005 only--had 1.2 million people
living with HIV last year. The United
States therefore ranks among the top 10 countries in
terms of infected people.
in prostitution and between men, as well as unsafe drug
injecting, represent the highest risks for HIV infection and
the main reasons for the spread of the disease in
Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, the
Africa, Asia is the second-most infected region. Almost
8 million of the world's people with HIV/AIDS live in South
and Southeast Asia. The report said there is
increasing evidence for HIV outbreaks among men who
have sex with men in Cambodia, China, India, Nepal,
Pakistan, Vietnam, and Thailand, but it said few of these
countries' AIDS programs really address the problem of
sex between males.
In North America,
an estimated 1.4 million people are infected, which
represents a steady increase over the past few years, mainly
due to the life-prolonging impact of antiretrovirals.
In the United
States, people from racial and ethnic minorities are more
affected by the epidemic, with half of the AIDS diagnoses
between 2001 and 2004 among African-Americans and 20%
people in the United States have been benefiting from
more effective treatment over the past few years, leading to
a 21% increase of infected people surviving two years
or longer since the early 1990s. (AP)