Africa bears the brunt of
the world Aids epidemic
The Aids epidemics has hit hardest in Africa. Here are some facts and figures
on HIV/Aids on the continent.
AFRICA, the world's poorest continent, is bearing the brunt of the world
An estimated 33,4-million people around the world are infected with Aids or its
virus, HIV, according to the latest figures compiled by the World Health
Organisation and the specialised programme UNAids. Of these, 22,5-million live in
Of the 5,8-million people infected by HIV last year, four million are Africans.
African youths are particularly affected. Last year, 1,7-million children or teenagers
became infected with HIV.
In some countries, such as Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, the
HIV/Aids infection rate is more than 20% of people aged between 15 and 49. Most
will die within 10 years unless life-extending treatment is made available.
The Aids epidemic in Africa is inflicting
a rising social and economic toll. Millions
of adults are dying in their 30s or 40s,
leaving in their wake orphaned children,
overwhelmed hospitals and companies
and schools hit by the loss of skilled
Certain statistics may be misleading,
because some nations have better health
monitoring systems than others:
ANGOLA: Officials say that from 1985
to June 1999 only 5 112 cases of
full-blown Aids were recorded among an
estimated population of between 10 and
11-million people. At least 189 000
people have the virus. Experts say the
official figures are underestimates, while
much of the health structure has been
destroyed in a a civil war which has
raged on and off for the past 25 years.
BOTSWANA: UNAids said in
November 1998 that 25% of adults in
Botswana, population 1,55-million, were
infected. It is forecast that the number
of Aids orphans under the age of 15 will
reach 65 000 by 2000.
DJIBOUTI: Of some half a million
inhabitants, officials say 21 000 are
infected, while more than 1 707 Aids
cases have been declared in the latest
ETHIOPIA: A year ago, authorities warned of an "alarming spread" of the
epidemic, making the east African country one of the 15 most affected in the
world. More than 2,-million people have the virus and 10% of the urban population
is affected, the health ministry says.
LESOTHO: Last year, UNAids said that 8,35% of adults were infected, with
85 000 adults and children living with HIV/Aids and an estimated 8 500 Aids
MALAWI: According to a national Aids secretariat and World Bank study, 13,8%
of the adult population is HIV-positive. Up to 700 000 children could be orphaned
by next year. The government plans to launch a national awareness campaign in
October "to break the silence" about the disease.
MOZAMBIQUE: The total number of cases is currently estimated at 1,5- million,
about 8% of the population. A single HIV-testing centre functions in Mozambique,
which emerged from 16 years of devastating civil war in 1992. A lack of
awareness of Aids and its impact is widespread, with surveys finding that most
ordinary citizens do not believe Aids exists and refuse to use condoms.
NAMIBIA: UNAids figures in 1998 showed that 19,94% of the adult population
was infected, with 150 000 adults and children living with HIV/Aids and an
estimated 7 300 orphans.
NIGER: The health ministry in the mainly desert west African nation says that
more than 5 000 people suffer from Aids. Experts protest that when the
government launched a five-year plan to fight the disease in 1994, Islamic
associations took steps to disrupt it on religious grounds.
SOUTH AFRICA: About 3,6-million people are living with the infection, from a
population of about 42-million, with another 550 000 new infections expected each
year. Within three years, almost a quarter of a million South Africans will die
annually from Aids. This figure will reach 500 000 per year by 2008, according to
government. It is feared that about a million children under the age of 15 will have
lost their mothers to Aids by 2005.
SWAZILAND: UN figures for 1998 showed 18,5% of the adult population was
infected. About 84 000 adults and children are living with HIV/Aids and there are
about 7 200 Aids orphans.
UGANDA: At least 1,5-million people, 7,5% of the population, are estimated to be
HIV-positive, but officials promote a campaign of openness about the disease
which has helped to cut the infection rate by more than half in six years.
ZAMBIA: Almost 20% of the adult population is HIV positive, according to health
ministry statistics. Its survey indicates that a public education campaign is having
some effect, with people taking fewer sexual partners and using condoms more
frequently. By 1995, the cumulative number of Aids deaths from the beginning of
the epidemic was estimated at more than 200 000. By the year 2010, an additional
1,6-million Zambians are expected to die.
ZIMBABWE: Figures published last year ranked Zimbabwe as among the
worst-affected countries in the world. UNAids estimates that 1,5-million people --
25% of the adult population -- are infected.
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