UN: 80m Africans may die of Aids

More than 80 million Africans may die from Aids by 2025, the United Nations has said in a report.

    HIV infections could soar to 90 million, says a Unaids report

    The report, which was released on Friday, also said that HIV infections could soar to 90 million - or more than 10% of the continent's population - if more is not done soon to fight the disease.

    More than 25 million Africans have been infected

    with HIV, the virus that causes Aids.

    Unaids, a UN agency set up to address problems of HIV-Aids, estimates that

    nearly $200 billion is needed to save

    16 million people from death and 43 million people from

    becoming infected, but donors have pledged nowhere near

    that amount.

    In its report Aids in Africa, the UN agency examines

    three potential scenarios for the continent in the next 20

    years depending on the international community's

    contribution to fighting the epidemic.

    Researchers determined that even with massive funding and

    better treatment, the number of Africans who will die from

    the virus is likely to top 67 million.

    "What we do today will change the future," concluded the

    report, which was drawn up by hundreds of the world's leading experts on

    HIV and Aids as well as

    people living with the virus.

    "These scenarios demonstrate that, while

    societies will have to deal with Aids for some time to

    come, the extent of the epidemic's impact will depend on

    the responses and investment now."

    Three scenarios

    The three scenarios include a best-case situation, a

    middle case and a doomsday scenario. They all warn that the

    worst of the epidemic's impact is still to come.

    "The scenarios are not predictions, they are plausible

    stories about the future," Unaids chief Dr Peter Piot

    said. "The scenarios highlight the various choices that

    are likely to confront African countries in the coming

    decades."

    In 2004, 3.1 million people were
    infected with Aids

    "There is no single policy prescription that will change

    the outcome of the epidemic," the report stated. "The

    death toll will continue to rise no matter what is done."

    Under the worst-case scenario, experts have plotted

    current policies and funding over the next two decades.

    "It offers a disturbing window on the future death toll

    across the continent, with the cumulative number of people

    dying from Aids increasing more than fourfold," it says.

    "The number of children orphaned by the epidemic will

    continue to rise beyond 2025."

    Devastating impact

    Aids already has a devastating impact on the continent. Unaids

    has reported that life expectancy in nine countries

    has dropped to below 40 because of the disease. There are

    11 million orphans, while 6500 people are dying every day.

    In 2004, 3.1 million people were newly infected, the agency

    said. "

    If by 2025 millions of African people are still becoming

    infected with HIV each year, these scenarios suggest that

    it will not be because there was no choice," the report

    said.

    "It will be because, collectively, there was

    insufficient political will to change behaviour at all

    levels from the institution, to the community, to the

    individual and halt the forces driving the Aids epidemic in

    Africa."

    Unaids' Piot said there was hope. "

    Millions of new infections can be prevented if Africa

    and the rest of the world decide to tackle Aids as an

    exceptional crisis that has the potential to devastate

    entire societies and economies."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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