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Global AIDS Pandemic

Since the first HIV case more than 20 years ago, over 60 million persons around the world have been infected, and over 20 million have already died from AIDS. At the beginning of the 21st Century, AIDS is the number one cause of death in Africa and fourth globally.

An estimated 70 percent of the world’s AIDS population live in sub-Saharan Africa. Since the beginning of the epidemic, over 15 million Africans have died from AIDS; 2.4 million AIDS-related deaths occurred there in 2002. There are an estimated 11,000 new infections in Africa per day. In four countries in sub-Saharan Africa over 30 percent of adults are living with HIV/AIDS. In seven sub-Saharan African countries at least one out of five adults are living with HIV/AIDS, and in an additional six sub-Saharan African countries, one out of ten adults is HIV positive. In 2010, 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa will see life expectancies fall to near 30 years, levels not seen since the end of the 19th century. In a region that would have estimated life expectancies to reach 70 years of age by 2010, Botswana's life expectancy will be 27 years, Swaziland, 33 years, and Namibia and Zambia, 34 years.

In 2001, 34 million children in sub-Saharan Africa were orphans, one-third of them due to AIDS. Because of AIDS, the number of orphans is increasing dramatically. By 2010, the number of orphans will reach 42 million. Twenty million of these children – or almost 6 percent of all children in Africa – will be orphaned due to AIDS.

With each minute that passes, another African child dies of AIDS.

The pandemic is not confined to Africa. Life expectancies will drop in 51 countries due to the global AIDS pandemic. In several Caribbean countries, HIV/AIDS has become a leading cause of death. Haiti and the Bahamas are especially hard hit. Eastern Europe and Central Asia – especially the Russian Federation – continue to experience the fastest-growing epidemic in the world.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

In April 2001, the U.N. Secretary General issued a call to action for the creation of a Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS. The new Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria was established in 2002. The purpose of the Fund is to attract, manage, and disburse additional resources through a new public-private partnership that will make a sustainable and significant contribution to the reduction of infections, illness, and death, thereby mitigating the impact caused by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in countries in need, and contributing to poverty reduction as part of the Millennium Development goals.

On September 22, 2003, UNAIDS announced that although AIDS-related funding for developing countries will reach nearly $5 billion for the year, it is less than half of the $10 billion that will be needed in 2005 to keep up with the demand from developing countries fighting the diseases. Unless the response to AIDS is expanded, an estimated 45 million new cases will arise by 2010.

Suggestions for Improvement

  • More money is needed to fight the disease with prevention, care, treatment, and research. We need to ensure that these funds are used effectively.
  • Reliable access to affordable medication for all those living with AIDS is critical. By the end of 2002, only 300,000 people received antiretroviral treatment in developing countries, while an estimated five to six million people needed treatment.
  • Deeper, fairer debt cancellation for impoverished countries is important so they can tackle problems including AIDS, hunger, education, and more.

Congressional Action

H.R. 1298 was signed into law in May 2003 authorizing a five-year, $15 billion global AIDS initiative. The bill includes a $1 billion pledge, over five years, to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Although $3 billion was authorized for the initiative for FY2004, the Bush Administration only requested $2 billion in the FY 2004 budget it submitted to Congress. In addition, the Senate rejected an amendment by Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) to H.R. 2660, the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill that would have increased funding for the global AIDS initiative by $1 Billion.

Related APHA Policy: 6716, 9014, 9919,7632, 200021,200026

Updated 10/03