Taming the African killer

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New UNAids reports show positive sign of HIV/AIDS reduction in Africa. In countries such as Ethiopia, Botswana, Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe the reduction in new HIV infections, measured among young pregnant women presenting for antenatal check-ups, indicates that these nations will achieve UN targets for reducing HIV rates among the young this year.

The UNAids ‘Outlook Report’ claim that the occurrence of HIV amongst young people between the ages 15 and 24 is on the increase in Uganda despite a strong anti-HIV initiative in the country, however the viral disease has decreased by up to 25% in other parts of the world especially Africa.

The ‘Outlook report’ says young people in 16 of the world’s 25 worst-affected countries with HIV are becoming sexually active later and having fewer sexual partners.

However, Uganda whose dynamic campaign against HIV/Aids had helped to reduce the prevalence of the virus – which reached 30% in the 1990s – to single-digit figures has fallen short of progress.

According to UNAids executive director Michel Sidibe, most people in Uganda became complacent and lost the craving for prevention programs “after the reduction and introduction of treatment”.

The reduction of HIV prevalence in Africa is due to a decline of sexual behavior amongst young people between the ages of 15 and 24, in response to Aids prevention campaigns.

And while Sidibe believes that the other data by UNAids was a positive sign of change as young people in Africa were taking responsibility for their own health and well-being, he said that “we need to be scared” about the complacency being experienced in Uganda.

According to the UN, five million young people live with HIV worldwide, making up 40% of new infections, and only a third of those who need anti-retrovirals are actually receiving them, meaning more resources are needed to fund medicines.

UNAids released the figures ahead of this year’s international conference on Aids, which begins in Vienna on Sunday July 18.

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