Important note: Information in this article was accurate in 2006. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date.
Reuters NewMedia - May 4, 2006
HIV infection rates among young people are falling in many parts of East Africa for the first time, about five years after African leaders took the initiative against the virus and declared it an emergency on the world's poorest continent.
"What we are seeing is some serious behaviour change," United Nations HIV/AIDS chief Peter Piot told Reuters in an interview at an AIDS summit in Nigeria.
"Young people start later with their first sexual intercourse. Also there's a reduction in number of partners and condom use has gone up," Piot said.
"Billions of dollars have been invested, some would say poured, into AIDS programmes in Africa and until now there were not that many results. Now these results are coming," he added.
Young people in Uganda, Kenya and Zimbabwe are losing their virginity two years later than they used to, Piot said, while the rate of new infections is falling in East African cities.
The number of Africans receiving life-saving AIDS drugs have also started growing fast, from a few tens of thousands five years ago to 750,000 now.
Sub-Saharan Africa has 10 percent of the world's population, but is home to more than 60 percent of people living with HIV -- 26 million people. Last year 3.2 million people in the region were newly infected, and 2.4 million died of AIDS.
MORE MONEY, COMMITMENT AND PROGRAMMES
Piot attributed the progress to much higher foreign donations -- mostly from the United States and the Global Fund -- a new openness about AIDS in a continent where leaders were in denial for years, and improving grass-roots projects.
"I am not trying to say we are there, but the glass is now half full," he said.
Global funding in the fight against AIDS, mostly for Africa, has quadrupled in the last four years to $8.4 billion. Life-saving anti-retroviral drugs take the lion's share, because they are more expensive than prevention.
"The key question for me is expanding the coverage and sustainability. We want people who are starting treatment today to still be alive in 30 years. Who is going to pay for that?" Piot said.
Most of the AIDS drugs used in Africa are paid for by foreign donors, which Piot said was not sustainable or desirable for Africa in the long term.
"If I am taking anti-retrovirals and my donor stops paying for whatever reason, I am going to die within six months. What does that mean for the sovereignty of a country?" he said.
"In the end, as much funding as possible for treatment will have to be taken on by governments ... It's a matter of priorities."
African governments agreed in 2001 to dedicate 15 percent of their budgets to the health sector, but only six have so far got close to that level.
Copyright © 2006 - Reuters, Ltd. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Contact Reuters.
AEGiS is a 501(c)3, not-for-profit, tax-exempt, educational corporation. AEGiS is made possible through unrestricted funding from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Elton John AIDS Foundation, the National Library of Medicine, Pacific Life Foundation and donations from users like you.
Always watch for outdated information. This article first appeared in 2006. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor.
AEGiS presents published material, reprinted with permission and neither endorses nor opposes any material. All information contained on this website, including information relating to health conditions, products, and treatments, is for informational purposes only. It is often presented in summary or aggregate form. It is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professionals. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.
Copyright ©1980, 2006. AEGiS. All materials appearing on AEGiS are protected by copyright as a collective work or compilation under U.S. copyright and other laws and are the property of AEGiS, or the party credited as the provider of the content. .