Tag Archives: Africa

Pregnant and diagnosed with HIV: the group providing support for mothers

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Thirteen years ago, when Babalwa Mbono was eight months pregnant with her second child, she went to her clinic in Cape Town, South Africa, to have a routine HIV test.

Article via The Guardian
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“I went with confidence because my first child was negative and I was negative then,” she says. When the test came back positive, Mbono couldn’t believe it. “When the counsellor who tested me showed me the results I thought, ‘you’re joking!’ I even asked her if she was sure.”

Mbono left the clinic in a daze and went home to reflect on the news, still in denial. She looked healthy and well, unlike her sister who had died three years previously from Aids-related tuberculosis. “For me, [the result] was something that was not real,” Mbono adds.

Nowadays many people in South Africa know about HIV. The country has the biggest and most high-profile epidemic in the world, with an estimated 7 million people living with the condition, according to UNAids figures. But in 2003 it was not a big topic, and discussions usually revolved around death, says Mbono. The fear of what having HIV might mean for her unborn child started to creep in, and she worried that she would not live long enough to care for a baby who might be infected.

When Mbono found out that she had HIV, South Africa’s government was still deciding whether to make antiretroviral treatment (ARVs) available to all, despite a third of pregnant women testing positive. Today, 48% of infected South African adults are on ARVs.

Back at the clinic, Mbono was linked up to a mentor mother through Johnson & Johnson’s mothers2mothers (M2M) programme. The scheme started in 2001 and has helped 1.4 million HIV-positive mothers in nine sub-Saharan African countries. It currently operates in Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, Lesotho, Uganda, Swaziland and Zambia – seven countries where it has virtually eliminated mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) among its patients, with a 2.1% transmission rate (the UN classifies virtual elimination as less than 5%).

Mbono’s HIV-positive mentor allayed her fears about death and her anger towards her husband, whom she blamed for giving her HIV after he tested positive with a much higher viral load. Through M2M, Mbono learned about taking ARVs to reduce the risk of MTCT in the womb and during breastfeeding, and about how to change her lifestyle to live a long and happy life with her children.

Last year, South Africa was one of six priority countries (all in sub-Saharan Africa) to meet a Global Plan target of reducing MTCT by 90%, with 95% of pregnant women with HIV on ARVs and an 84% reduction in new HIV infections among children.

Over the past year, Cuba, Belarus, Armenia and Thailand – non-priority countries – managed to eliminate MTCT altogether. In South Africa, mother-to-child transmission of HIV has fallen to 3.5%, putting the country within reach of eliminating paediatric infections, although maternal mortality remains high.

The M2M programme “makes the person feel supported”, Mbono says. “It’s a sisterhood, and it makes you feel like you have a family to cry on.” Through counselling, which helps to breaks down the stigma still attached to HIV/Aids in South Africa despite its high prevalence, Mbono also found the courage to confide in her parents and siblings.

And six months ago, she decided to disclose her HIV status to her daughter Anathi, who had just turned 13. “It really felt shocking,” says Anathi, who feared that there would be no one to look after her seven-year-old brother, who was born HIV negative. “I was afraid that she would leave us.”

Mbono reassured her daughter that she had tested negative when she was 18 months old, but Anathi decided to go alone to the clinic and be tested anyway, where she also accessed free counselling from health workers.

“I was so, so scared, but eventually they just sat with me and told me to not freak out and to not think negative things about my mum,” Anathi says. Over the two days she waited for her results, she spent time with her mother and learned more about M2M, even reading her mentoring books.

Mbono’s experience with M2M made her give up unhealthy habits, such as not eating properly and drinking alcohol, and inspired her to become a mentor mother in 2003. “The [programme] gave me the strength to go out there and tell people about HIV and correct the mistakes that people are making and [that] I also made when I didn’t have any information.”

She has gone from counselling others on HIV/Aids and family planning, to training other mentors and seeing them become nurses, social workers and students.

“What makes me most happy [is] when I see a woman who had broken up in pieces when she was told about HIV … and when you see her on the next visit she is much better than the day she left.”

Some 95% of babies in M2M’s South Africa programme test negative for HIV at 18 months, and that also makes Mbono proud. “That makes me feel that I’ve done my job, because 18 months is a long time for the mother to be supported and to be educated. There are so many challenges that they come across, and we are there [for them].”

Anathi set up a counselling group at school to discuss HIV and sex with 18 girls and five teachers, as well as a drama group to perform plays to parents and pupils that discuss staying HIV negative and breaking down stigma.

“Most people don’t talk about it … Young people are not getting enough information about HIV,” she says. Anathi has a friend who she says became a recluse after she found out she is positive, and she knows two girls who have gone off the rails since their mothers recently died of Aids.

But for Anathi, dealing with her mother’s HIV has made them stronger and brought them closer together.

She still worries about how well her mother has slept or eaten when they are apart, even though learning about ARVs has lessened her fears of her mother falling ill and not recovering. “I just worry too much and I call,” she says. “She is like my daughter.”

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How to combat the threat of HIV drug resistance

 A mother holds her antiretroviral drugs, Triomune, at a HIV testing and treatment clinic in Lagos, Nigeria. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

A mother holds her antiretroviral drugs, Triomune, at a HIV testing and treatment clinic in Lagos, Nigeria. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

As we strive for an Aids-free generation, we must help people adhere to antiretroviral treatment to stop them developing resistance.

For people living with HIV, antiretroviral treatment (ART) has been a life-saver. ART stops HIV from making copies of itself and prevents HIV from attacking the body’s immune system.

At the end of 2015, 17 million people were taking ART around the world and Aids-related deaths had fallen by 45% since the peak in 2005.

Story via The Guardian
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But those who don’t stick to the ART regimen set out by their doctor or health worker might become resistant to the drugs. Resistance occurs when ART regimens are not taken as prescribed, which allows HIV to make copies of itself and increases the risk that the virus will mutate and produce drug-resistant HIV. A person who is on a drug such as Efavirenz can develop resistance after as little as a two-day interruption of treatment.

Globally, HIV drug resistance is on the rise. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that up to 2010, HIV drug resistance levels remained at 7% in developing countries. However, recently, some countries have reported levels at or above 10% among those starting ART, and up to 40% among people restarting ART.

At the beginning of the epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, there was fear among the international community that people living with HIV in resource-limited settings would not be able to adhere to their treatment due to a lack of education and resources. Would they be able to keep time well enough to take their ART at the same time every day?

However, studies have demonstrated that people in sub-Saharan Africa may be better than people in the west at taking their ART as prescribed. The issue in developing countries is that people lack the resources to get to a clinic and pick up their pills. I’ve worked in Namibia since 2009, and whenever I visit ART clinics, there are long queues stretching out the door. People often have to wait all day and many can’t afford to take this time off work every month.

The stigma associated with being seen waiting in a queue to pick up medication is also a factor in people not adhering to their treatment plans. To avoid this, some people on ARTs travel to a clinic many kilometres away from their town, so they can receive treatment without anyone recognising them. And if you took a whole day off work, borrowed money for the transport and stood in a queue all day, only to learn that the clinic had run out of your pills, what would you do?

ARTs & HIV drug resistance

As the use of ART increases, so does the risk of HIV drug resistance. It’s no surprise, then, that global HIV drug resistance is on the rise, both among those already on ART and those just starting on it.

What could happen if levels of drug resistance reached critical levels? Their ART regimens would no longer be able to stop the HIV in their bodies from making copies of itself and they would then have to be switched to second-line regimens, if available.

But second-line regimens are more expensive. For countries already struggling to provide ART to those who need it, this would is likely to mean that fewer people could be started on ART.

Drug resistance has been a problem since the beginning of the HIV epidemic. In the west the problem was usually limited to individual patients. But in resource-limited settings, if a high percentage of the population develops drug resistance we could see large increases in Aids-related deaths and higher healthcare costs.

We must act now to help people adhere to their treatment plans, before it’s too late. Globally, there has been a huge focus on getting more people on treatment, but the quality of how it’s delivered has fallen by the wayside.

Drug resistance will rise when ART is not delivered in a well thought-out way. That requires strong drug supply systems with zero tolerance for an interruption of ART drug supply, strong and locally appropriate counselling to promote adherence, support for patients who don’t have the resources to access care, re-engagement of patients who have stopped going to the clinics, alternative ways to deliver care such as community-based ART groups, and strong medical record systems.

As we strive to end Aids as a public health threat by 2030, greater attention must be focused on identifying and correcting gaps in the quality of ART service delivery. Many lives depend on it and the time to act is now. If we don’t, we may find ourselves with a new global pandemic of drug-resistant HIV and be faced with a deadlier enemy than we started with.

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Global HIV drive hampered without drugs for ‘neglected’ West and Central Africa

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A global drive to help curb the HIV epidemic by 2020 will fail unless millions of people with the virus in West and Central Africa receive life-saving drugs, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Wednesday.

Story via
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The United Nations AIDS program (UNAIDS) launched a five-year treatment program in 2014 to ensure that by 2020 almost all people with HIV worldwide know their status and receive treatment.

The drugs used to treat HIV also help to curb the spread of the virus.

Only one in four adults and one in 10 children living with HIV in West and Central Africa have access to antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, compared to almost half of HIV sufferers in Eastern and Southern Africa, MSF said.

HIV treatment is not considered a priority in West and Central Africa by donors or governments, as the region has a smaller percentage of people infected with HIV than Eastern and Southern Africa, said Mit Philips, health policy advisor at MSF.

“Donors focus mostly on high prevalence countries, like in Southern Africa, where everyone knows someone affected by HIV,” Philips told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Brussels.

Parts of Southern Africa have the world’s highest HIV rates, including Swaziland where 27 percent of people aged 15 to 49 have HIV, and South Africa which has a prevalence rate of nearly 20 percent.

“People with HIV in West and Central Africa are neglected … the low prevalence rate is misleading but means there is a lack of interest and that the disease is less visible in society,” Philips added.

Two percent of people in West and Central Africa have HIV, yet the region accounts for one in five new infections annually worldwide, one in four AIDS-related deaths and almost half of all children born with HIV, according to MSF.

While conflict across the region and epidemics of other diseases like Ebola have hindered HIV treatment, stigma, weak health systems and lack of political will have worsened the situation, MSF said in a report published on Wednesday.

“Many people face an obstacle course to obtain ARV drugs – they face stigma within society and even prejudice from health workers, struggle to pay transport or consultation fees, and often find there are low stocks of the drugs,” Philips said.

Some 36.9 million people worldwide are living with HIV, which is spread through blood, semen and breast milk and causes AIDS, and more than half of them do not have access to treatment. Many do not know they have the virus.

UNAIDS said in November that its treatment program, called 90-90-90, was starting to show results as the nearly 16 million people being treated by June 2015 was double the number in 2010.

(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Alex Whiting; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

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AIDS: Don’t Die of Prejudice!

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Eighteen million people around the world live with HIV but do not know they are infected. Endangering both themselves and countless others, they represent a public health challenge that affects not only Africa but every part of the world, including Europe and the United States. We stand at a tipping point in the AIDS crisis – and unless we can increase the numbers tested and treated, we will not defeat it. In spite of the progress since the 1980s there are still over 1.5 million deaths and over 2 million new HIV infections a year.

Former Health Secretary Lord Fowler has travelled to nine cities around the globe to report on the position today. What he discovered was a shocking blend of ignorance, prejudice, bigotry and intolerance. In Africa and Eastern Europe, a rising tide of discrimination against gay and lesbian individuals prevents many from coming forward for testing. In Russia, drug users are dying because an intolerant government refuses to introduce the policies that would save them. Extraordinarily, Washington has followed suit and excluded financial help for proven policies on drugs, and has turned its back on sex workers.

Norman Fowler started his career as a journalist at The Times and for over thirty years was an elected MP, serving in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet before becoming Chairman of the Conservative Party under John Major. He joined the House of Lords in 2001. He is the longest-serving British Health Secretary since the Second World War, and has devoted much of his life to raising awareness about HIV/AIDS.

Aids cover 2.inddIn his new book “AIDS: Don’t die of Prejudice” Norman Fowler reveals the steps that must be taken to prevent a global tragedy. Aids: Don’t Die of Prejudice is a lucid yet powerful account, both an in-depth investigation and an impassioned call to arms against the greatest public health threat in the world today.

 

We ordered a couple of copies which arrived today, our staff will share and read this book and in a couple of weeks, I’ll ask them what they thought of it and gather their opinions for you to read.  If you own your own copy (Amazon Link) we’d like to hear your views, let us know in the comments..

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Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013) His Enduring Legacy

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Nelson Mandela, one of the world’s most revered statesmen, who led the struggle to replace the apartheid regime of South Africa with a multi-racial democracy has died at home, surrounded by his family at the age of 95.

Nelson Mandela had been hospitalised four times since December 2012 and was taken to a hospital in Pretoria four months ago with a recurring lung infection.  During this time, official news from the hospital had been quiet but family members had said that Mandela’s condition has improved and was expected to return home.

Mandela’s medical team advised President Jacob Zuma of a slight improvement in the former president’s health.  He visited Mandela in hospital in Pretoria after abandoning a planned trip to a summit in Mozambique.

Mandela’s health is “perilous” and he is being kept alive by life support, according to documents filed in the court

Yet, it was confirmed earlier this evening.  In a statement on South African national TV, Jacob Zuma said Mr Mandela had “departed” and was at peace.  “Our nation has lost its greatest son,” Mr Zuma said.

He said Mr Mandela would receive a full state funeral, and flags would be flown at half-mast.

Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the first black South African to hold the office, and the first elected in a fully representative, multiracial election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, he served as the President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997. Internationally, Mandela was the Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999.

He declined to run for a second term, and was succeeded by his deputy Thabo Mbeki, subsequently becoming an elder statesman.

You can find more information on the life of Nelson Mandela from the following links.

As an elder statesman, Mr Mandela focused on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation which was founded in 1999.

In December 2000 Amidst a resounding standing ovation from the delegates at the Thirteenth International AIDS Conference in Durban, Nelson Mandela took the stage at the closing ceremony at the International Convention Centre and used this opportunity to add his voice to the worldwide struggle against HIV/AIDS.

Mandela said at the outset, ‘It is never my custom to use words lightly. If 27 years in prison and 27 years of silence in solitude have taught me anything, it is how precious words are!’

Referring to the controversy over major issues related to AIDS raised by South African President Thabo Mbeki, Mandela asked his countrymen to support their President and his scientific enquiry, saying, ‘The President of this country is a man of great intellect who takes scientific thinking very seriously and he leads a government that I know to be committed to those principles of science and reason.’

Stressing the need for us not to indulge in mud-slinging and worthless arguments, he said, ‘The ordinary people of the world, particularly the poor – who on our continent will again carry a disproportionate burden of this scourge – would wish that the dispute about the primacy of politics or science be put on the backburner and that we proceed to address the needs and concerns of those suffering and dying. And this can only be done in partnership. History will judge us harshly if we fail to do so right now.’

‘Wasting words and energy in worthless ridicule distracts us from our main course of action, which must be not only to develop an AIDS vaccine [sic], but also to love, care for, and comfort those who are dying of HIV/AIDS. A vaccine shall only prevent the further spread of HIV/AIDS to those not already infected; we must also direct our concern towards those who are already HIV positive.’

At the time, and still prevalent today in South Africa, employment opportunities and a dignified life are still a distant dream for HIV-positive patients even in the most advanced social set-ups.  HIV positive patients are refused basic treatment in many medical facilities if they reveal their HIV-positive status and some doctors remain unwilling to attend to HIV-positive patients.

Mandela did not mince words when speaking on the magnitude of the AIDS pandemic. ‘Let us not equivocate: a tragedy of unprecedented proportions is unfolding in Africa. AIDS in Africa today is claiming more lives than the sum total of all wars, famines, floods, and the ravages of deadly diseases such as malaria.

‘It is devastating families and communities, overwhelming and depleting health care services, and robbing schools of both students and teachers. Business has suffered, or will suffer, losses of personnel, productivity and profits; economic growth is being undermined; and scarce development resources have to be diverted to deal with the consequences of the pandemic.

‘HIV/AIDS is having a devastating impact on families, communities, societies, and economies. Decades have been chopped from life expectancy and young child mortality is expected to more than double in the most severely affected countries of Africa. AIDS is clearly a disaster, effectively wiping out the development gains of the past decades and sabotaging the future.’

Society at large remains largely unprepared to meet the challenge of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. A massive effort is required if we are to successfully tackle the menace of HIV/AIDS. As Mandela put it, we need to ‘move from rhetoric to action, and action at an unprecedented scale…’.

Mandela had also stressed that HIV is wholly preventable. ‘I am shocked to learn that 1 in 2, that is, half, of our young people will die of AIDS. The most frightening thing is that all of these infections were preventable.’

Speaking on strategies to prevent the further spread of HIV, he pointed out, ‘The experiences of Uganda, Senegal and Thailand have shown that serious investments in, and mobilisation around, these actions make a real difference. Stigma and discrimination can be stopped, new infections can be prevented, and the capacity of families and communities to care for people living with HIV and AIDS can be enhanced.’

Outlining the future course of the war to contain the spread of HIV in South Africa, Mandela exhorted the delegates to remember that, ‘The challenge is to move from rhetoric to action, and action at an unprecedented intensity and scale. There is a need for us to focus on what we know works. We need to break the silence, banish stigma and discrimination, and ensure total inclusiveness within the struggle against AIDS.’

‘We need bold initiatives to prevent new infections among young people, and large-scale actions to prevent mother-to-child transmission, and at the same time we need to continue the international effort of searching for appropriate vaccines. We need to aggressively treat opportunistic infections, and work with families and communities to care for children and young people, to protect them from violence and abuse, and to ensure that they grow up in a safe and supportive environment.’

Nelson Mandela succeeded in issuing a call to action as the world prepared to enter the new century facing one of the biggest public health disasters mankind has ever known.

46664

The non-profit organisation, “46664” (four, double six, six four) founded just a year prior to this speech takes its name from the prison number (prisoner number 466 of 1964) given to Mr Mandela when he was incarcerated for life on Robben Island, off Cape Town, South Africa.  Mr Mandela gave his prison number to the organisation as a permanent reminder of the sacrifices he was prepared to make for a humanitarian and social justice causes he passionately believed in.

In creating 46664 initially as a global HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention campaign, Mr Mandela realised that to reach the youth all over the world specifically, he needed to engage the support of the people who most appeal to them. This has been seen most visibly through the high-profile 46664 concerts of the early ‘00’s and the appointment of 46664 ambassadors.  The 46664 ambassadors are world famous and influential musicians, artists and sportsmen and women who are committed to supporting 46664 and the mandate its takes forward to find new hands to lift the burdens.

In addition, 46664 has expanded its focus from being a global HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention campaign into encompassing all areas of Mr Mandela’s humanitarian legacy as well as confronting issues of social injustice.

Makgatho Mandela

Makgatho-Nelson-MandelaIn January of 2005, Nelson Mandella announced that his eldest son, Makgatho Mandela has died of AIDS at the age of 54. Makgatho Mandela had been critically ill for several weeks after being admitted to a Johannesburg hospital late in 2004.

Mr Mandela cancelled several engagements over the holiday period to be close to his ailing eldest son and on Thursday, 6th January 2005 announced the cause of his son’s death, the former president said: “Let us give publicity to HIV/AIDS and not hide it, because [that is] the only way to make it appear like a normal illness.”

Mandela’s candour about his son’s illness undoubtedly helped to erode the stigma and prejudice surrounding HIV/AIDS.  Compared to other world leaders, he has been forthright concerning the need to combat the pandemic.  For these reasons, we appreciate Mandela and admire him. There is, after all, very little international leadership in the fight against HIV.  Mandela’s commitment and openness is therefore commendable.  It contrasts with the dishonesty and neglect of HIV/AIDS by others, in the East, West and Developing worlds.

Legacy

Our friend, and International Patron, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, knows Nelson Mandela better than most people, and it was at Desmond Tutu’s house that Mandela spent his first night after his release from prison in 1990.  Desmond Tutu once said that the world would never have met Mandela the statesman had he not first been Mandela the prisoner.

The Mandela who entered prison in 1962 was an angry young man; a left-wing radical branded a terrorist.  But Desmond Tutu said prison reshaped Mandela’s soul.  It was there he learned forgiveness, which became the hallmark of his presidency and enabled him to heal some of the wounds between South Africa’s two racial solitudes.

Nelson Mandela is proof of humanity’s power to transcend even the widest divides and deepest hatreds.

That is his enduring legacy.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, 1918 – 2013 now at rest.

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Information about the effort and influence surrounding HIV/AIDS prominent activists is available here.

Africa Day Celebrations

Africa day and football poster

Greetings from all of us here at LASS, we hope you all are well.  We invite you to another fascinating event: the Africa Day celebrations featuring the LASS ‘Know Your HIV Status’ Football Tournament. We appreciate very much and thank you all for the support you have given us to date and encourage you to participate in what will be a colourful, fun and sporting day.

The ‘Africa Day Celebrations’  featuring the ‘LASS ‘Know your HIV football tournament 2013’ to be held on 6th July 2013 from 10.00 am at the Emerald Centre, 450 Gypsy Lane, Leicester, LE5 0TB. There will be 12 African teams fighting for the winners trophies.

There will be Winners and Runners Up trophies and 20 Gold medals for the winning team and 20 Silver medals for the runners up.

There will be different food on sale with lots of BBQ during the day.

Please note: rapid hiv testing (result in 60 seconds) will be voluntary for anyone.  Parking will be plenty: and please no alcohol or drinks to be brought on site except children’s drinks. There is a bar to cater for that.

We would like to make this a fun-filled family day so we appreciate it if you could bring your families, friends and colleagues. The day would be very colourful, funny and interesting if teams and spectators could bring with them their national flags to make it an exciting Africa Day celebrations event. There will be health stalls for Chlamydia screening diabetes (blood glucose), mental health, children’s mental health and hate crime. African clothing and artefacts will also be on sale. We hope to see you all to enjoy the day.

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A History of HIV & AIDS – 1997

As we prepare to enter our 25th year, we are reflecting on the global HIVevents from the last three decades.  HIV has swept across the globe touching communities on every continent.  Here’s an introduction to some of the key moments in the early global history of HIV.  Catch up on the story using the ‘Recent Posts’ link to the right.

For the first time since the AIDS epidemic became visible in 1981, the number of deaths from AIDS had dropped substantially in the developed world due to the advances of anti HIV medicine and combination therapy.  Within two years, death rates due to AIDS will have plummeted in the developed world. (See 1996 for why)

In New York City the decline was even more dramatic, with the number of people dying from AIDS falling by about 50 per cent compared to the previous year. The number of babies being born HIV positive had also declined dramatically.

In May, President Clinton set a target for the USA to find an AIDS vaccine within ten years.

In August UNAIDS estimated HIV/AIDS cases in India, Myanmar (Burma), Bangladesh and Nepal at 3 million, 350,000, 20,000, and 15,000 respectively.

Worldwide, 1 in 100 adults in the 15-49 age group were thought to be infected with HIV, and only 1 in 10 infected people were aware of their infection. It was estimated that by the year 2000 the number of people living with HIV/AIDS would have grown to 40 million.

September 2, “The most recent estimate of the number of Americans infected (with HIV), 750,000, is only half the total that government officials used to cite over a decade ago, at a time when experts believed that as many as 1.5 million people carried the virus.” article in the Washington Post.

Based on the Bangui definition the WHO’s cumulative number of reported AIDS cases from 1980 through 1997 for all of Africa is 620,000. For comparison, the cumulative total of AIDS cases in the USA through 1997 is 641,087.

December 7, “French President Jacques Chirac addressed Africa’s top AIDS conference and called on the world’s richest nations to create an AIDS therapy support fund to help Africa. According to Chirac, Africa struggles to care for two-thirds of the world’s persons with AIDS without the benefit of expensive AIDS therapies. Chirac invited other countries, especially European nations, to create a fund that would help increase the number of AIDS studies and experiments. AIDS workers welcomed Chirac’s speech and said they hoped France would promote the idea to the Group of Eight summit of the world’s richest nations.”

At the end of the year, UNAIDS reported that worldwide the HIV epidemic was far worse than had previously been thought. More accurate estimates suggested that 30 million people were infected with HIV. The previous year’s estimate had been 22 million infected people with an estimated 3.2 million cases of new HIV infections.

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