UN Chart Says AIDS Epidemic Spreading

By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - With millions of people worldwide living with AIDS (news - web sites) and the HIV virus (news - web sites), a new U.N. chart paints a grim picture of the epidemic spreading not only through Africa, but also through parts of Asia and Latin America.

Five countries have at least 2 million people each living with AIDS or the HIV virus - Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, according to a chart released Thursday by the United Nations (news - web sites) Population Division.

In five other African countries - Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe - at least 20 percent of the adult population is infected.

By 2005, life expectancy will have dropped by at least 17 years in these five countries as well as in Kenya, Namibia and South Africa, the chart showed. Outside Africa, AIDS deaths will decrease life expectancy by at least three years in the Bahamas, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti and Myanmar by 2005.

``The numbers show a worsening of the impact of the HIV (news - web sites)/AIDS epidemic in terms of increased illness, deaths and population loss - and we're not even at the peak of the deaths,'' said Joseph Chamie, director of the U.N. Population Division.

In 1999, the disease killed 310,000 people in India, more than any other country. Ethiopia was second with 280,000 deaths followed by Nigeria with 250,000.

``We've had wars before, and a great number of people have died in those wars, but it hasn't had the impact on average life expectancy that we observe in some of the countries hardest-hit by HIV/AIDS,'' Chamie told The Associated Press.

In Botswana, the United Nations projected that at the end of the 20th century, life expectancy should have been about 68 years. But because of AIDS, life expectancy was around 44 years. Similarly, in South Africa, without AIDS, life expectancy should have been around 63 years but instead it has fallen to around 57.

The chart was produced ahead of the U.N. General Assembly special session on HIV/AIDS June 25-27, which is expected to adopt a global agenda to combat the disease. It includes AIDS statistics from every country, including life expectancy with and without AIDS, condom use, and health expenditure per capita.

U.N. figures indicate that the use of condoms - the cheapest and most effective form of protection against transmission of the HIV virus during sexual contact - is rare in most regions.

Despite the devastating impact of the AIDS epidemic, however, the population of the most affected countries is expected to increase by 2050, Chamie said.

"We project that the African population which is today around 800 million is likely to be 2 billion by 2050, even with AIDS," he said.

Source: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010607/us/un_aids_2.html