Press Releases


    12 June 2001


    However, Governments Initiating Actions to Confront Challenge

    NEW YORK, 11 June (UN Headquarters) -- Millions of people are infected with HIV, and millions more are likely potential victims. Life expectancy has already dropped precipitously in some countries. As parents die of AIDS-related causes, their children become orphans and face uncertain futures. The ability to cope with the demands and consequences of HIV and AIDS is limited by the funds available for health care.

    On the hopeful side, more and more governments are responding to the crisis by acknowledging that AIDS is a major concern, by establishing high-level coordinating bodies, and by taking measures to prevent the spread of AIDS. The global challenge of HIV/AIDS is to intensify international action to fight the epidemic and to mobilize the resources needed.

    These are among the findings from the wall chart, entitled "HIV/AIDS: Population Impact and Policies 2001", published by the United Nations Population Division. The wall chart is a timely backdrop to the United Nations General Assembly special session on HIV/AIDS that will convene in New York from 25 to

    27 June 2001. Included in the chart are data for each country on total population, number and percentage of adults living with HIV/AIDS, number of deaths from AIDS, number of AIDS orphans, life expectancy at birth with and without AIDS, condom use, and health expenditure per capita. Policy considerations include government’s level of concern about AIDS, measures taken to prevent the spread of AIDS, and existence of a governmental AIDS policy coordination body.

    More than 36 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS, more than two thirds of them in sub-Saharan Africa. At least 2 million infected adults live in each of five countries: Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. In five African countries -- Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe -- at least one in five adults has HIV or AIDS.

    Eight African countries will have lost at least 17 years of life expectancy to the AIDS epidemic by 2000-2005, namely, Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Botswana, life expectancy in 1995-2000 is already 23 years less than it would have been if there had been no AIDS-related mortality, and the shortfall will be 34 years by 2000-2005. Outside Africa, AIDS deaths will decrease life expectancy by at least three years in the Bahamas, Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti and Myanmar by 2000-2005.

    Most of the deaths caused by AIDS occur to people in younger age groups; the loss of these young lives disproportionately affects productivity and economic growth and the social fabric of family and society. About 310,000 persons died in 1999 of AIDS in India. Ethiopia and Nigeria also each had at least a quarter of a million AIDS deaths. AIDS caused more deaths in India than in any other country.

    Some 13 million children have been orphaned because their parents died of AIDS. Three countries – Ethiopia, Nigeria and Uganda – each have more than 900,000 AIDS orphans. The number of AIDS orphans will continue to grow in countries where the epidemic is still gathering momentum. Four other countries – India, Kenya, United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe – all have at least half a million orphans due to the AIDS epidemic.

    Governments have established high-level agencies to confront the challenge of AIDS. Activities to prevent the spread of AIDS are widespread and include information and education campaigns and blood-screening programmes.

    The use of condoms, which would protect users from HIV transmission, is rare in most regions. Using condoms is the cheapest and most effective form of protection against the transmission of the HIV virus during sexual contact. However, in most countries, condom use is minimal. Nearly all countries in Africa have use rates of less than 5 per cent. Only four countries in Asia and four in Latin America and the Caribbean have condom use rates of 10 per cent or more. The highest rates of condom use occur in Europe, particularly in Northern Europe.

    Health-care systems cannot cope with the demands of HIV/AIDS, and countries most affected by the disease are generally least able to pay for prevention and treatment. In the 10 countries most severely affected by AIDS, per capita health expenditure ranges from $3 to $246. In Africa, most countries spent less than $100 per person annually.

    "HIV/AIDS: Population Impact and Policies 2001" (Sales No. E.01.XIII.6) is available for $5.95 from the Sales Section, United Nations, New York or Geneva, through booksellers worldwide, or by writing to the Director, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations, New York, NY 10017, USA. The wall chart is available in English and French versions. Data will soon be accessible on the Internet at

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