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WHO: AIDS is World's Major Health Problem

Posted - May 12, 2004 at 6:20 a.m.



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NEW YORK, May 11, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A United Nations report describes AIDS as a disaster for the world's poor countries and the leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 59.

"Changing History" is the first World Health Organization report devoted entirely to HIV/AIDS, which has killed more than 20 million people since it was first recognized during the early 1980s.

The report emphasizes that AIDS is mainly a disease of poor people and poor countries. Last year, an estimated 5 million people worldwide became infected and 3 million died.

In Africa, the disease appears to spread mainly by heterosexual intercourse, while in the former Soviet bloc countries and Eastern Europe the use of injected drugs and unprotected sex are fueling the epidemic. In the United States, 30,000 new cases are reported every year, mostly among African-Americans and Hispanics.

The WHO said money to fund treatment and education programs is far more available than it was a few years ago. But WHO officials warn progress is likely to be slow, with only 400,000 people in poor countries now receiving treatment with anti-retroviral drugs.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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