World Marks AIDS Day

The globe on Friday, December 1, marked World AIDS Day with calls for greater efforts to fight the incurable disease and better care for the infected people.

World Marks AIDS Day

"Accountability -- the theme of this World AIDS Day -- requires every president and prime minister, every parliamentarian and politician, to decide and declare that 'AIDS stops with me,'" UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

He said the deadly disease and its precursor HIV virus had killed 25 million people and infected 40 million more in the quarter century since the first case was reported.

"It requires every one of us to help bring AIDS out of the shadows and spread the message that silence is death," he said.

New 4.3 million people have been reported positive to the virus this year, according to the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

There are estimated 39.5 million people are infected with the virus, many unaware of their status.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the hardest-hit region, with 24.7 million people affected, making up more than 60% of people living with HIV worldwide.

It is followed by South and Southeast Asia, with 7.8 million; Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with 1.7 million; Latin America, with 1.7 million; and North America, with 1.4 million.

Alarming

Annan's call comes as the World marked the AIDS Day with marches demanding better care for the victims of the killer disease.

"Don't turn your back on AIDS," cried thousands of marchers in Guwahati in the northeast Indian state of Assam.

The marcher in the state, which has the world's highest caseload, demanded low-cost treatment by the government for people in the later stages of illness.

There are 5.9 million AIDS-infected people in India.

New Delhi may lead the way in producing generic HIV/AIDS drugs. But it is failing to make low-cost treatment available to its own 5.7 million sufferers, experts and activists say.

In neighboring Bangladesh, thousands of people rallied outside parliament.

"Many young people who inject drugs are now carriers of the virus," said Tariqul Islam, director of the Alliance for Cooperation and Legal Aid Bangladesh.

"The situation is becoming very alarming," he added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate 8.6 million people are living with HIV in the Asia Pacific region in 2006.

Nearly 960,000 were infected with the virus in the past year.

"High-risk behavior, such as injecting drug use, unprotected paid sex and unprotected sex between men, is especially evident in the HIV epidemics in some regions, including Asia," said WHO regional director Shigeru Omi.

Crippling

Ahead of the AIDS Day, the International Labor Organization (ILO) warned that the killer virus was having a crippling effect on the global labor force, despite improved access to life-saving treatments and slow down economic growth in the hardest-hit countries.

"The economic burden on each labor force participant is expected to increase globally from 0.5 percent to 1.7 percent between 2005 and 2020, and from 4.0 percent to 7.2 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa over the same period," said an IOL report.

It said that while 3.4 million working-age youth and adults died annually in 2005 as a result of the disease, the figure is expected to rise to 4.5 million by 2020.

Cumulative deaths in the global labor force are projected to rise to nearly 86 million by 2020 from 28 million estimated for 2005, despite better access to antiretroviral drug therapy (ARVs), it added.

Forty-three countries surveyed in 2006 lost on average 0.5 of a percentage point from their economic growth rate every year between 1992 and 2004.

Among them, the 31 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa lost 0.7 of a percentage point, according to the report.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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