The global AIDS epidemic has been moving fast in affecting women. The 2004 World Epidemiological Bulletin, released yesterday, November 23, by the UN Joint HIV/AIDS Program (UNAIDS), reveals that half of the recently infected population is composed of members of the female sex.
According to the report, the number of people contaminated by AIDS is at an all-time high, approximately 39.4 million, compared with 36.6 million in 2002.
More than a third of the cases registered in Latin America are in Brazil. Even so, the country’s program for prevention and treatment of the disease was singled out for commendation in the document.
One of the high points is the increased life expectancy of HIV carriers.
In 1995 the remaining life expectancy for HIV carriers was only a year and a half. The following year it jumped to around five years.
Users of injectable drugs belong to one of the groups presently most vulnerable to the AIDS epidemic.
According to the UNAIDS Bulletin, the total of contaminated individuals rose from 8 million in 2003 to 13.5 million in 2004.
In the opinion of the representative in Brazil of the UN Commission on Drugs and Crime, Giovanni Quaglia, this is one of the means of contamination that is most on the rise. Over half of the new AIDS cases in Brazil involve drug users.
The report lauds the risk reduction program adopted in Salvador, in the Brazilian Northeast.
This type of infection fell from 50% in 1996 to 7% in 2001.
The risk reduction program provides disposable syringes to drug users, as well as other types of drugs to substitute the injectable kinds.
The report also points out that HIV contamination among injectable drug users in the South of Brazil remains high.
In the city of Porto Alegre, for example, the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, the rate of victimization among members of this group amounted to 64% in 2003.
Translator: David Silberstein