U.N. reports expansion of AIDS epidemic Growth of infection is explosive in some areas

November 30, 1996|By NEWSDAY

NEW YORK -- The United Nations AIDS organization has released disturbing estimates of the seemingly relentless expansion of the HIV pandemic.

At a time when many Americans are optimistic that drug therapy might eliminate the virus, HIV is taking a heavy toll worldwide.

According to the agency, every minute six people become infected with HIV: 7,500 adults per day and 1,000 children. About 30 million people have acquired the virus during the past 15 years; 6.4 million of them have died of AIDS.

And there are signs of growing social disruption caused by the epidemic. In sub-Saharan Africa, 5.6 percent of the population is HIV positive, and more than 1 million children have lost their parents to AIDS.

Within four years, there will be more than 2 million AIDS orphans in seven countries combined: Dominican Republic, Kenya, Rwanda, Thailand, Uganda, the United States and Zambia.

Illness and death among young adults from HIV have reached such proportions in some countries that national economics and productivity are affected. In Uganda, 44 percent of all premature deaths are blamed on AIDS.

The virus is also spreading into new areas, often at a staggering pace, according to the report:

During the past three years, HIV infection rates among Vietnamese prostitutes jumped from 9 percent to 38 percent.

In the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Nikolayev, HIV infection among narcotics users jumped from 1.7 percent in January 1995 to 56.5 percent by November.

Pub Date: 11/30/96

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