Aids is now the leading cause of death in Africa, being responsible for one in five of all deaths in the continent last year, according to the United Nations (UN).

Authors Avatar

The level of infection with HIV, the virus which leads to Aids, was even more worrying among pregnant women - 22% were HIV infected.

Aids is now the leading cause of death in Africa, being responsible for one in five of all deaths in the continent last year, according to the United Nations (UN).

The latest survey showed that in South Africa's worst hit province - KwaZulu Natal - one in three women are HIV infected.

The country's Health Ministry said half of those who are HIV positive are in their 20s.

Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said: "HIV continues to be a very serious health problem in South Africa."

The report says the Aids epidemic will have a major impact on the country for at least the next decade and that the country of 43 million people faces a massive drain on its already over-stretched healthcare system.

Full scale 

But the UN Aids programme (UNAIDS) for the region said the survey did not reveal the full scale of the epidemic.

As Sy, team leader for UNAIDS in eastern and southern Africa, said: "Here we are facing a huge epidemic. These numbers are so big and yet do not truly translate the huge problem at community and family level.

"There are millions of people who don't know they are infected."

However, Sime Lela, national director of HIV-Aids at South Africa's Health Ministry, said the survey showed some signs of hope as the rate of increase in cases over the past few years has slowed, particularly in people under 20 years old.

But Lela added: "There has to be a redoubling of our efforts."


A study released by bankers ING Barings in Johannesburg this month said 2.5 times as many people in South Africa would die from AIDS as from any other disease by 2010.

It said the HIV infection rate would peak at 17 percent in 2006.

Gavin Hart at the National Aids Trust in the UK said the South African Government had been slow to react to the Aids crisis and still refused to accept the link between HIV and Aids.

It also does not prescribe the drug AZT to pregnant women which cuts the rates of mother to child transmission.

He added: "There is work to be done in terms of encouraging wider use of condoms in South African society. It is about gradually bringing about a behaviour change."

UK outlines £23m Aids package

UK outlines £23m Aids package
UK prime minister is to announce a £22.7m support package for HIV/Aids prevention in developing countries at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in South Africa on Friday.

The funding is the latest allocation of funds from a five-year £100m HIV support programme announced in January.

The UK's Department for International Development (DFID) says the money will be targeted at a number of initiatives designed to prevent HIV infection spreading further among some of the world's poorest people.

Aids is now the leading cause of death in parts of Africa.

A total of £14m will go to the International Aids Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) as part of a broader HIV-prevention campaign in southern Africa.

The IAVI will use the funds to develop Aids vaccines for developing countries based on local strains of the virus.

The £14m will also support research into developing methods of marketing vaccines in an affordable way.

A further £7.5m will be spent over five years to support a regional response to HIV/Aids in southern Africa. The cash will finance a task force which is being set up to target people at greatest risk from the disease.

Initial efforts will be targeted at Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.


Around £1.2 million will also be used to train more than 700 volunteers from the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) organisation, who will help to raise awareness of the HIV epidemic in southern Africa.

Join now!

Clare Short, the UK International Development secretary, said: "HIV/Aids is a death sentence for poor and marginaised people. Over 90% of all HIV/Aids cases are now in developing countries - it is overwhelmingly a disease of the global disadvantaged.

"It lays a crippling burden on societies already afflicted by gross inequalities and is sharply reducing life expectancy in many countries.

"HIV/Aids can only be tackled seriously if governments help people to take the virus seriously."

The DFID has made HIV/Aids a priority area of its health strategy and its main aim is to contain the spread of ...

This is a preview of the whole essay