11000 new cases daily and women are worst afflicted

GENEVA - HIV-Aids tightened its deadly grip on the world this year with 11000 new infections every day, and women increasingly at risk, the UN agency leading the global campaign against the disease said yesterday.

GENEVA - HIV-Aids tightened its deadly grip on the world this year with 11000 new infections every day, and women increasingly at risk, the UN agency leading the global campaign against the disease said yesterday.

Some 4,3million people in the world were newly infected, bringing the number living with HIV to 39,5million, an increase of 2,6million from 2004, UNAids said.

The daily rate of new infections stood at 11000, and there is a disturbing rise in the number of female victims.

"Globally more adult women than ever before are now living with HIV," it said.

Regionally, the sharpest increases in infection rates were in the former Soviet bloc, and South and Southeast-Asia.

In eastern Europe and central Asia, where the virus is mainly transmitted through intravenous drug use, the number shot by up 70 percent to 270000, UNAids reported.

For South and Southeast-Asia, prostitution is the biggest cause of infection.

Infections climbed by seven percent in sub-Saharan Africa, while new infections in other geographical areas remained relatively stable against 2004 levels.

Despite the increase, UNAids noted that since 2000- 01, HIV prevalence among young people had declined in eight of 11 countries with sufficient data to analyse recent trends.

"The future course of the world's HIV epidemic hinges in many respects on the behaviour young people adopt or maintain.

"Some recent positive changes are evident among young people in parts of the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in East Africa," the report said.

Nevertheless, sub-Saharan Africa continued to bear the brunt of the epidemic, with two-thirds of all global cases.

The report cautioned that despite some declines in national HIV prevalence in the region, "such trends are currently neither strong nor widespread enough to diminish the epidemics' overall impact in this region".

The region far outstrips the rest of the world in terms of infection, with 5,9 percent of the adult population living with the virus. The global average remains at one percent.

The main groups at risk remain drug users, male homosexuals, prostitutes of both sexes and their clients, the report said.

UNAids calculated that some two million life years were gained since 2002 in low- and middle- income countries, thanks to the provision of antiretroviral treatment. - Sapa-AFP

X