HIV epidemic is far worse than thought

BMJ. 1997 Dec 6;315(7121):1486. doi: 10.1136/bmj.315.7121.1485b.


PIP: This article highlights the recent discovery that HIV is spreading faster than expected. The UN program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization report that about 33% more people are living with HIV in the world than estimated in December 1996. Rates of HIV transmission have been grossly underestimated, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. 1 in every 100 sexually active adults worldwide is believed to have an HIV infection, or 30 million people. By the year 2000, about 40 million are expected to have an HIV infection. The epidemic has developed differently in each country. Lake of data made comparisons difficult. In Uganda, which is not typical of sub-Saharan African countries, HIV infection rates are leveling off, particularly among younger age groups. UNAIDS estimates that about 9 out of 10 HIV-positive people are unaware that they are infected. This situation occurs because of the lack of facilities for HIV testing and counseling. An estimated 2.3 million died of AIDS in 1997, a 50% increase over 1996 mortality. Almost 50% of AIDS deaths in 1997 were among women, and 460,000 AIDS deaths occurred among children under 15 years old. In some African countries, the development gains made over the past decade are being erased. In Botswana, life expectancy rose from under 43 years to 61 years during 1955-90 and then declined to late 1960s levels in the late 1990s. Infant mortality in Zimbabwe is expected to rise by 138% by the year 2010 due to AIDS. There is a need in developing countries for an affordable means of slowing down the progression of HIV to AIDS and to increase protection among young people.

Publication types

  • News

MeSH terms

  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Global Health
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Humans