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HOME: POPULATION ISSUES: PREVENTING HIV INFECTION: HIV/AIDS Update 2002
Preventing HIV Infection
HIV/AIDS Update 2002
Strategy for Prevention
Country Commitments
Regional Response
Global Action
Conclusion: Challenges
Regional Response

Situation by region
Regional initiatives
Country Technical Services Teams
Culture and religion

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Situation by region


“Africa, in particular sub-Saharan Africa, is currently the worst-affected region where HIV/AIDS is considered as a state of emergency, which threatens development, social cohesion, political stability, food security and life expectancy and imposes a devastating economic burden and that the dramatic situation on the continent needs urgent and exceptional national, regional and international action.”

Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS
UNGASS on HIV/AIDS, 2001

The epidemic has spread to every corner of the world. While it has taken its heaviest toll in Africa, it is spreading with frightening speed in other regions.

Regional initiatives link UNFPA with many valued partners, multiplying expertise gained by the Fund over three decades addressing culturally and politically sensitive issues of sexual and reproductive health.

Infection rates are still escalating in sub- Saharan Africa—the region with the highest infection rates—although there are signs that HIV incidence may be stabilizing in a few countries, including Uganda.

All UNFPA-supported programmes in the 45 countries of sub-Saharan Africa have integrated HIV/AIDS interventions.

  • At least 3.4 million new infections occurred in 2001, bringing the total number of Africans now living with HIV/AIDS to about 28.1 million. It is estimated that 2.3 million Africans died of AIDS in 2001.


  • 10 per cent of people aged 15 to 49 are infected in 16 African countries, including several in southern Africa, where at least 20 per cent are infected. In parts of southern Africa, HIV prevalence rates have increased by 50 per cent over the two-year period of 1999 and 2000. In West Africa, national adult HIV prevalence exceeded 5 per cent in at least five countries in 2001.


  • Africa is home to 70 per cent of adults and 80 per cent of children living with HIV. It was also home to three quarters of the nearly 22 million people who have died of AIDS since the epidemic began two decades ago.


  • Were it not for HIV/AIDS, average life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa would be approximately 62 years; instead, it is about 47 years.


  • In 2000, the United Nations Security Council held its first meeting devoted to a disease—the impact of HIV/AIDS on peace and security in Africa.

Concern for Africa was expressed at the African Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases in Abuja, Nigeria, where the UN Secretary-General told African leaders that the AIDS crisis in Africa was a “continent-wide emergency” and his “personal priority”.

At the same event, the UNFPA Executive Director said, “African countries need the world’s help and many additional resources to help fight HIV/AIDS, but success will come as the result of leadership and commitment within Africa itself.”

In Asia and the Pacific, many countries are faced with the threat of major and widespread epidemics.

Specific population groups are already experiencing high rates in localized epidemics, and the vast size of the population in countries such as India and China means that large numbers of people are infected even when national figures show low HIV prevalence.

An estimated 7.1 million people are now living with HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, about 4 million in India alone. Immediate action can make a difference.

Prompt, large-scale prevention programmes are holding the epidemic at bay in Thailand and in Cambodia, where strong political leadership lowered HIV prevalence among pregnant Cambodian women to 2.3 per cent at the end of 2000—down nearly one third from 1997.


Adults and children estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS as of end 2001:
Estimated no. of adults and children newly infected with HIV in 2001
Source: UNAIDS, AIDS Epidemic Update: December 2001

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