AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - AIDS, the disease today: “there is an AIDS of the rich and an AIDS of the poor ” says Italian Camillian Brother Grigoletto in mission in Burkina Faso

Friday, 12 March 2004

Rome (Fides Service) - At the end of 2002, according to estimates by UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation WHO, 42 million of the world’s people were living with AIDS. In 2002 alone 5 million people contracted HIV/AIDS virus and 3 million others died of it. Unless something changes, in the next ten years the number of people with HIV/AIDS could reach the 100 million mark and the death toll 68 million 68 million.
But there is another sad and discriminating aspect of AIDS, Brother Giovanni Grigoletto tells Fides: there is an AIDS of the rich and an AIDS of the poor. And it is not difficult to guess which part of the world is most affected: of the 68 million of deaths expected 55 million will be in Africa, mainly Sub-Saharan Africa where AIDS is the main cause of death causing 25%, with its 2.4 million deaths in 2002, whereas Malaria causes ‘only’ 10% of the deaths .
Another alarming fact reported by the United Nations regards the spread of the virus among young people. Most young people start having sexual intercourse at a very young age totally unaware of the danger of HIV/AIDS. A survey carried out by UNICEF, UNAIDS and WHO among young people average age of 24 in 60 different countries, revealed that 50% had no idea how HIV/AIDS is transmitted and that only 20% of young people in the countries most at risk had correct information. So 50% of new cases appear among the youngest members of society.
“The tragic consequences are the 6.000 young people every day are prey to HIV”, said Carol Bellamy, UNICEF director general. And this is not all. UNICEF’s report “Children on the edge of the precipice”, that in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean -, 13.4 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS and that the figure will rise to 25 million by 2010. (AP) (12/3/2004 Agenzia Fides; Righe:28; Parole:361)