Africans Are Faced With Extinction By AIDS
created 28/05/2003 - 18:36, updated 28/05/2003 - 18:37 by cybe
KRQE News 13/APDeath is outstripping life in africa. The study below says death will outstrip births by 2010, but by that time it will be too late, as it is close to too late already. Africans would get more attention on endangered species list.
The study says AIDS will chop life expectancy below 40 in 11 countries - Down To Age 27 in Botswana
By Michael Smith National Post 7-8-2
BARCELONA - The average life expectancy of people in 11 African countries will drop below 40 by 2010 as HIV/AIDS continues to shorten the lives of millions, U.S. government researchers said in a report to the International AIDS Conference.
The report, by the U.S. Census Bureau, shows life expectancy falling in 51 countries around the world over the next eight years as people die of AIDS. But the epidemic will have its greatest impact in Africa, where in many countries more than 30% of the adult population is infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
The disease will undermine the continent's social and economic stability, with the biggest increases in early deaths coming among people who are in their 30s, 40s and 50s, when they should be at their most productive, and will leave a population of AIDS orphans in its wake, the conference was told.
In five African countries, deaths will outstrip births by 2010, meaning falling populations.
"Unfortunately, many African countries are only beginning to see the impact of high levels of HIV prevalence," said the Census Bureau's Karen Stanecki.
"By 2010, we project that life expectancies in these countries will be back to levels that have not been seen since the 19th century."
The Census Bureau's "middle-case scenario," which assumes that the epidemic will begin to level off in Africa over the next eight years, predicts the average life expectancy in Botswana and Mozambique will drop to just 27 years.
"We are faced with extinction," said Dr. Banu Khan, head of the National AIDS Co-ordinating Agency in Botswana.
Swaziland will see an average of 33 years and Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia 34 years. Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda and Mali will see life expectancy drop to the mid- to late 30s.
Without AIDS, average life in southern Africa would have been around 70 years by 2010.
The figures are the latest in a series that show Africa buckling under the growing AIDS epidemic. Sub-Saharan Africa has 28.5 million of the world's 40 million infected people.
Stephen Lewis, Canada's former ambassador the United Nations, said Canada's response to the crisis has been "abysmal, wholly inadequate."
Mr. Lewis, the UN's special envoy for AIDS to Africa, said there are 6,000 new HIV infections around the world every day among people between the ages of 15 and 24 -- about 4,000 of them young women and girls.
AIDS "is becoming the ultimate definition of gender inequality," Mr. Lewis said.
He said Canada is spending about $270-million over five years to help fight AIDS but ought to spend that amount every year.
United Nations officials predicted last week that within the next 20 years 68 million people will die from AIDS in the hardest-hit areas of the world -- Africa and Asia. That is five times as many as have already died from the disease.
"From a historical perspective, we are still in the early days of the epidemic," said Dr. Peter Piot, executive director of the UN AIDS program. "There are no indications that the AIDS epidemic is levelling off, not even in the most affected countries."
In China, the former Soviet Union and other countries in Asia, the virus is spreading swiftly, Dr. Piot said. In Russia, reported cases have increased by more than 15 times in three years.
"The major challenge we have is growing in scale -- expanding to more regions the strategies known to work -- and for those countries where HIV is starting to expand, to make sure, by intervening early enough, that they don't go the way that Africa has gone," Dr. Piot said.
The world needs to commit at least US$10-billion for research, treatment and patient care if the epidemic is to be slowed, he said, but this year only about US$2.8-billion is being spent.
Joy Phumaphi, the Health Minister of Botswana, where life expectancy has dipped below 40 for the first time since 1950, told the conference that without major intervention her country will not be able to combat HIV infection. "We are all engaged in a fight to the death," she said.
Among the country's 1.6 million people, 39% of adults are infected with HIV, with rates over 50% in the northeast and among expectant mothers in cities.
Without AIDS, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland and South Africa would have expected a population growth rate of at least two per cent over the next eight years. Instead, deaths will outstrip births in those countries by 2010, Ms. Stanecki said. As adults die, she added, millions of AIDS orphans will become a growing problem.
"You have a lot of adults missing, and then you have a lot of children who don't have adult supervision or don't have adult leadership. That means increases in orphans, increases in street children," Ms. Stanecki said.
The same trend toward decreased life expectancy as a result of AIDS is also being seen in Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean, Ms. Stanecki said, although the impact is not as great because a smaller percentage of the population has the illness. But in Haiti, one of the hardest-hit countries in the Caribbean, life expectancy is now 51, although it would have been 59 without AIDS.
In all, life expectancy is expected to fall in 51 countries within eight years as a result of AIDS.
Although the disease is exacting its greatest toll in Africa, Dr. Piot warned the fight against AIDS is not Africa's alone.
"The world stood by when AIDS was spreading in Africa. We can't do the same thing now that it is spreading in Eastern Europe, at the doorsteps of the EU," he said.
The conference is expected to draw about 15,000 scientists, physicians, activists and people with HIV or AIDS. A march to coincide with the opening of the meeting was set to highlight the gulf between rich and poor in access to medicines, a theme that will dominate the week-long discussions on Spain's Catalan coast.
Modern triple therapies have turned HIV/AIDS into a treatable condition for 500,000 patients in the West -- but only 230,000 get the same drugs in the developing world, although poor nations bear the brunt of the epidemic.
© Copyright 2002 National Post