Feb 14 U.S. President George W. Bush travels to Africa on Friday for a first-hand look at U.S.-sponsored HIV/AIDS programs. Here are some key details about AIDS in the region:
* AIDS IN AFRICA:
-- Sixty eight percent of all people infected with HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than three quarters of all AIDS-related deaths in 2007 occurred.
-- 1.7 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were newly infected with HIV in 2007, bringing to 22.5 million the total number of people living with the virus in the region.
-- Sixty one percent of people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are women.
-- Adult HIV prevalence is starting to decline in Kenya and Zimbabwe, and similar signs are also being seen in the Ivory Coast, Mali and urban Burkina Faso. In these countries there is also evidence of a shift towards safer sex.
* SOUTH AFRICA:
-- Some 5.5 million people (or about 12 percent of a population of 47 million) have HIV in South Africa, which is not on Bush's itinerary. There are 500,000 new infections every year, including 100,000 children, and each year an estimated 400,000 people die from the virus, UNICEF said.
-- South African officials, including President Thabo Mbeki, have infuriated AIDS activists by questioning accepted science around the virus and arguing it is the result of poverty, chronic disease and malnutrition.
-- In South Africa, death rates from natural causes for women aged 25-34 years increased five-fold between 1997 and 2004, and for males aged 30-44 it more than doubled.
-- South Africa has the highest HIV caseload in the world, but like most other African countries, adult HIV prevalence is either stable or has started to decline.
* AIDS TREATMENT:
-- A critical shortage of healthcare workers and restrictions on prescribing life-saving drugs is crippling the war on HIV/AIDS in southern Africa according to a report by medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).
-- An estimated 1 million people with HIV in South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi and Lesotho -- four of the countries hardest hit by HIV/AIDS -- require but do not have access to the anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) treatment.
-- In South Africa some 700,000 needy HIV patients are going without the treatment. The crisis is especially bad in rural areas where clinics are overwhelmed by a backlog of cases.
* THE GLOBAL PICTURE:
-- Around 33.2 million people are living with HIV worldwide, up from 29 million in 2001, according to UNAIDS.
-- Some 2.5 million people were newly infected with the virus in 2007 and 2.1 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses. Sources: Reuters/UNAIDS/www.unaids.org/