Wednesday, July 14, 2010

AIDs prevalence rate falls in 16 African countries

In a report issued by the UN on tuesday, the prevalence rate of AIDs among pregnant African women has declined by more than 25% in 12 African countries. The decreased infection rates have been largely driven by people between the ages of 16 and 24, who are at the highest risk of contracting HIV/AIDs (women more so than men). More than 80% of the world's 4 million people infected with HIV/AIDs are from sub-Saharan Africa.

Men and women between the ages of 16 and 24 are making changes in their sexual behavior, and these changes are having a big impact on the AIDs prevalence rate. A USAID report attributes the decrease in prevalence due to three changes in sexual behavior: 1) people are having few sexual partners 2) condoms are being used more 3) people are waiting longer to become sexually active. In Kenya, the AIDs rate fell from 14% of the urban population in 2000, to 5.4% in 2010. In Ethiopia, there was a 47% change in HIV prevalence among pregnant women in urban areas and a 29% change in rural areas. 13 sub-Saharan African countries have report that young people are waiting longer to be sexually active, having fewer sexual partners, and increasing use of condoms among men and women.

One other recently implemented strategy to combat AIDs is male circumcision. Circumcision has been shown to reduce a male's chance of contract AIDs from a female partner by nearly 70%. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has heavily funded male circumcision efforts in an effort to make it one of the Foundation's leading strategies in combatting AIDs. To see the full report and articles on the updated battle against AIDs, check out the links below.

-Matthew Thwaites