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IN THE NEWS - World AIDS Day

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This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS.

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Sunday is World AIDS Day. World AIDS Day was first declared at a conference in nineteen-eighty-eight. Each year, the observance gives governments, other organizations and individuals a chance to show the importance of the fight against AIDS. It also is a day to celebrate progress in efforts to stop the spread of the disease.

The message for World AIDS Day this year is, "Live and Let Live." Peter Piot is the head of the United Nations AIDS program. He says the world AIDS campaign for the next year is about the way people infected with the AIDS virus are treated. He says those infected can be treated unfairly in schools, workplaces, and religious centers. He is urging every one to fight this unfair treatment wherever it is found. He says that would help clear the way to progress in fighting AIDS itself.

This week, U-N officials reported that about half of those infected worldwide are women. Until now, more men were infected. The U-N's new report estimates that forty-two-million people are infected with the AIDS virus, also called H-I-V. Nearly thirty-nine-million of those infected are adults. More than nineteen-million of them are women. Last year, more than four-million adults became infected. Two-million of them are women.

U-N officials say many women were infected through sex with infected men. Studies have found that H-I-V passes more easily from men to women than from women to men.

The main reason for the rise in infected women is the AIDS crisis in southern Africa. There, fifty-eight percent of infected adults are women. The report says this is one cause for the drop in agricultural production in several African countries. In parts of Africa, women do much of the work on family farms.

U-N officials say more than fourteen-million people are at risk of starving in six African countries. They are Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. More than five-million of the twenty-six-million adults in those countries are infected.

U-N officials also report rising infection rates among women in North Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean Sea area. The report shows that Eastern Europe and Central Asia have the world's fastest growing population of H-I-V carriers. This year, there were about two-hundred-fifty-thousand new infections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. That represents about twenty percent of all infections there.

In Asia and the Pacific Ocean area, more than seven-million people now have H-I-V. More than one-million people in China are infected. In India, almost four-million people have the AIDS virus.

The United Nations estimates that at least ten-thousand-five-hundred-million dollars is required for AIDS programs in much of the world by two-thousand-five. That compares with current spending of three-thousand-million dollars a year.

This VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS, was written by Caty Weaver. This is Steve Ember.

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