|My song against AIDS|
|League table: Estimated proportions (%) of 15- to 24-year-olds living with HIV/AIDS|
|AIDS is decimating the developing world nowhere more savagely
than in sub-Saharan Africa and great numbers of young people are
now falling under the fury of its unrelenting attack. This league table
documents the toll of the epidemic.
A bitter legacy
In Botswana, 1 in 3 young women and 1 in 7 young men aged 15 to 24 are infected with HIV, as are 1 in 4 young women and 1 in 10 young men in Lesotho, South Africa and Zimbabwe. In nine other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, more than 1 in 10 young women and 1 in 20 young men are infected.
The signs are evident in too many countries. In Cambodia, for example, 1 in 33 young women and 1 in 50 young men are infected, and in Haiti, 1 in 33 young women and 1 in 20 young men are HIV positive.
How did these rates come to be so disastrously high, now, more than 15 years into the withering curse of the AIDS epidemic?
How, with the enormous losses already endured the millions of dead and dying, the children orphaned, the human, economic and social blight this epidemic has caused have we come no further than to this bitter place?
How is it that, after 15 years of such painful acquaintance with AIDS, we have bequeathed such a deadly legacy to 10.3 million of our young?
The HIV-infection rates among young people are a searing indictment, documenting failures of vision, commitment and action of almost unimaginable proportions. They tell the story of leadership unworthy of the name and the virtual abandonment of sub-Saharan Africa, at a time of dire need, to a disaster that may soon engulf other regions as well. And they speak of devastation waiting to emerge elsewhere, under a similar cover of silence, apathy and neglect.
Although AIDS cannot be cured, it can be prevented. Current infection rates should never have reached such catastrophic levels. Now that they have, leaders at all levels and in all countries, both industrialized and developing, must immediately commit the resources, time and energy to prevent further such tragedies. A strong international response to this grave emergency is long overdue and young people now at the epicentre of the epidemic need to be involved.
The world has averted its gaze for too long, in the process aiding and abetting in this most unpardonable of crimes the preventable deaths of millions of young people.
|Sub-Saharan Africa||Middle East and North Africa*|
|C. African Rep.||14||6.9||Libya||<0.01||<0.01|
|Uganda||7.8||3.8||U. Arab Emirates||<0.01||<0.01|
|Burkina Faso||5.8||2.3||* 1997 estimates.|
|Congo, Dem. Rep.||5.1||2.5||
|Central Asia||East/South Asia Pacific|
|Georgia||<0.01||<0.01||Papua New Guinea||0.3||0.1|
|*The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, subsequently referred to as TFYR Macedonia.||<=less than.||ND = No data.|
Note: This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.