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IN THE NEWS - July 13, 2002: AIDS Conference - 2002-07-12

Broadcast: July 13, 2002

This is Bob Doughty with the VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS.

A new report says that the disease AIDS will cause a sharp drop in life expectancy in fifty-one countries by the year Two-Thousand-Ten. A study by the United States Census Bureau was released during the International AIDS Conference this week in Barcelona, Spain. Experts say several nations are losing one-hundred years of progress in extending the length of life of their citizens.

AIDS has killed more than twenty-million people around the world. Experts say about forty-million people are infected with H-I-V, the virus that causes AIDS. More than six-million people are infected in Asian countries. Most of them live in India, China and Indonesia. AIDS is also spreading quickly in Russia, Latin America and the Caribbean. But Africa has been hardest hit by the disease. Almost thirty-million people are infected with the virus.

Seven countries in southern Africa now have life expectancies of less than forty years. For example, in Botswana, life expectancy is thirty-nine years. By Two-Thousand-Ten, it could be less than twenty-seven years. Mozambique is expected to have a similar reduction in life expectancy. Lives would also be shortened in other southern African countries. Without AIDS, officials say the average life expectancy in southern Africa by Two-Thousand-Ten would have been about seventy years.

There are also many more babies dying from AIDS in southern Africa. Researchers say that in Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia, more babies will die from AIDS by Two-Thousand-Ten than from all other causes.

American Census Bureau official Karen Stanecki says there soon will be more deaths than births in southern African countries because of AIDS. She says as adults die, millions of children will grow up without parents.

A United Nations report says about thirteen-million children have already lost one or both parents to AIDS in eighty-eight countries. Most of these orphans live in southern African countries. The report estimates that there will be at least twenty-five million AIDS orphans by Two-Thousand-Ten.

Some non-governmental organizations say that number is far too low. They say there will be almost one-hundred-million orphans by Two-Thousand-Ten.

Carol Bellamy is the director of the United Nations Children’s Fund. She says AIDS orphans face many problems, even if they are not infected. They are often mistreated by the communities, forced out of school, and sometimes become targets for illegal activities. She says girls are the group most at risk.

AIDS officials say ten-thousand-million dollars is needed each year for research, treatment and care for people with AIDS. Yet, they say wealthy nations have agreed to pay less than one-third of that amount.

This VOA Special English IN THE NEWS was written by Cynthia Kirk in Barcelona. This is Bob Doughty.