Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Prevalence of Aids

AIDS is one of the deadliest epidemics in human history. It was first identified in 1981 among homosexual men and intravenous drug users in New York and California. Shortly after its detection in the United States, evidence of AIDS epidemics grew among heterosexual men, women, and children in sub-Saharan Africa. AIDS quickly developed into a worldwide epidemic, affecting virtually every nation.

The United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that the worldwide number of new cases of HIV infection peaked in the late 1990s with more than 3 million people newly infected each year. However, some regions of the world, especially Vietnam, Indonesia, and other countries in southeast Asia, continued to see an increase in the early 2000s. In addition, the number of people living with HIV or AIDS has continued to rise as the result of new drug treatments that lengthen life.

While cases of AIDS have been reported in every nation of the world, the disease affects some countries more than others. About 90 percent of all HIV-infected people live in the developing world. AIDS has struck sub-Saharan Africa particularly hard. Two-thirds of all people living with HIV infection reside in African countries south of the Sahara, where AIDS is the leading cause of death.

In countries hardest hit, AIDS has sapped the population of young men and women who form the foundation of the labor force. Most die while in the peak of their reproductive years. Moreover, the epidemic has overwhelmed health-care systems, increased the number of orphans, and caused life expectancy rates to plummet. These problems have reached crisis proportions in parts of the world already burdened by war, political upheaval, or unrelenting poverty.

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