AIDS Report

By Cynthia Kirk

This is the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

United Nations officials say about thirty-six million people are infected with the AIDS virus around the world. Experts say that is about fifty-percent higher than they had expected ten years ago.

Officials of U-N-AIDS gave the estimate in a new report about the AIDS crisis around the world. U-N AIDS is a joint program operated by the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the World Bank.

Although some progress has been made in AIDS treatment and prevention, the problem is getting worse. U-N AIDS says about five-million people this year became infected with H-I-V, the virus that causes AIDS.

The disease is expected to kill three-million people this year, more than any other year. It is the leading cause of death in many countries.

Africa is the worst affected area. More than twenty-five million people there are infected with the disease. Seventy-percent of the people with AIDS worldwide are in African countries south of the Sahara Desert. Women are the hardest hit by the disease in Africa. That is because the virus is more easily passed from men to women during sex. For the first time, however, there were fewer new infections in Africa this year than the year before. U-N AIDS says about three-million-eight-hundred-thousand people were newly infected this year. That is down from about four-million last year. But the report says the drop in new infections is likely because the people most at risk from AIDS already have been infected.

The fastest spread of AIDS in the world is taking place in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. In Russia, infections rose from about one-hundred-thousand last year to about three-hundred-thousand this year.

In Asia and Pacific countries, almost six-million people have the virus. New infections in Asia are blamed on illegal drug use and the sex trade. The report says about one-million-four-hundred-thousand people are living with H-I-V or AIDS in Latin America.

In the United States, there were about forty-five-thousand new infections this year. This number has been about the same during the past five years.

Major drug companies have agreed to sell anti-AIDS drugs at reduced prices to poor countries. But experts say getting them to the people in need is the biggest problem. They say prevention is the best way to control the disease.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by Cynthia Kirk.

Voice of America Special English