HIV/AIDS: New infections soar in Africa

UNICEF report says nearly 2,500 young adults from Nigeria and South Africa were infected everyday in 2009.

Princess Mathilde Travels To Tanzania For UNICEF - HIV/AIDS
One in four AIDS deaths is caused by tuberculosis, a preventable and curable disease [EPA]

An estimated 890,000 young adults from Nigeria and South Africa were infected with HIV in 2009, making it nearly 2500 infections every day, a new study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF} has said.

According to the report released on Wednesday, young people aged 15-24 accounted for 41 per cent of the new infections among adults aged 15 or older.

And a majority of these new infections occurred in 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with Nigeria and South Africa accounting for one out of three of these new infections.

The new report showed that globally young women made up more than 60 per cent of all young people living with HIV, a share which went up to 71 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Polo Holo Ramat-Wala, a Johannesberg-based HIV-AIDS awareness campaigner, said stigma remained a big obstacle in combating HIV/AIDS.

“It contributes to new HIV cases as people are reluctant to get themselves tested,” he said.

Global reduction

The report, however, highlighted a reduction in HIV infection on a global scale.

In Asia an estimated 4.9 million people were living with HIV in 2009, about the same number as five years earlier.

But in India, Nepal and Thailand, the incidence rate of new HIV infections fell by more than 25 per cent between 2001 and 2009.

And in 2009, a total of 44,000 new infections were recorded among young people in Latin America and the Caribbean region.

In 2001, a global commitment was made to reduce the prevalance of HIV among young people by 25 per cent by 2010. However, the actual reduction achieved was 12 per cent.

Some countries have experienced increased awareness and positive changes in sexual behaviour of their young people.

This has been possible due to efforts of young people and their schools, families, health workers as well as efforts of some political leaders.

Since the AIDS pandemic started in the early 1980s, more than 60 million people have been infected with HIV and nearly 30 million have died of HIV-related causes.

The main causes of HIV transmission remain unprotected sex or unsafe drug use.

And one in four AIDS related deaths were caused by tuberculosis, a preventable and curable disease, the report said.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies