Untitled AIDS ravages Untitled Sub-Saharan Africa . By the end of the year 2001, more than 28 million (about 70%) of the 40 million people worldwide with Untitled HIV/AIDS , now live in Untitled Sub-Saharan Africa , devastating almost every country in the region. [View latest report of the Untitled AIDS Epidemic Update in Untitled Sub-Saharan Africa .] Untitled
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Visit Untitled AIDS Epidemic Update in Untitled Sub-Saharan Africa
The map (to the right) provides animated snapshots of the spread of the Untitled AIDS epidemic in Untitled Sub-Saharan Africa from 1984-1999. [View also the worldwide Untitled AIDS map shown below.] The data gathered by UNAIDS indicated that "AIDS-like illnesses" were diagnosed in the early 1980's in some countries in Untitled Sub-Saharan Africa , especially in Untitled Uganda , Untitled R Congo and Untitled Tanzania . The epidemic soon spread rapidly to the contiguous countries in Untitled Sub-Saharan Africa .

During the same period, many of the countries in Untitled Africa were embroiled from one civil strife to another -- involving warring factions within a country or among adjacent countries. Read the database of country profile links, collated here (see countries in Untitled Africa ). These civil strifes caused forced mobilization, concentration of people in refugee camps, rape, forced prostitution and/or servitude, etc. that contributed to the wildfire spread of Untitled HIV infection.

Today, 25 of the top 28 countries (worldwide) with the highest rate of Untitled HIV infections (exceeding 4% of adult population) are in Untitled Africa ; 19 of these have HIV infection rates exceeding 8% of the adult population. Twenty one (21) countries in Untitled Sub-Saharan Africa have a population of people living with Untitled HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) exceeding 100,000. Only a few other countries in other regions of the world have a population of PLWHA comparable to those in Sub-Saharan Africa. [Read brief discussion in the latter link and the companion link, countries (worldwide) most affected by Untitled HIV/AIDS .]

The infection rates are higher among those in the 15-49 age range, and even much higher among the "high-risk" groups, i.e., sex workers and their clients, injecting drug users (IDUs), etc. Because of the extent of the epidemic, even those classified as "low-risk", i.e., pregnant women, blood donors and those without defined risky activities, showed high rates of Untitled HIV infection in some countries.

The vast majority of those afflicted with Untitled AIDS are in the 24-49 age range; many are parents who are the main source of financial support of their families. Death of parents from Untitled AIDS have orphaned more than 12 million children in Untitled Sub-Saharan Africa . [Examine statistics in Sub-Saharan African countries and countries (worldwide) most affected by Untitled HIV/AIDS .]

In the most heavily affected areas in many countries in Untitled Sub-Saharan Africa , the average life expectancy has fallen to as low as 30 years. The Untitled AIDS epidemic has devastating socio-political and economic consequences, erasing many of the hard-earned development gains of the past generation and now threatens to undermine the future of Untitled Sub-Saharan Africa .

While the rate of infection is very high all over Untitled Sub-Saharan Africa , the epidemic is even more devastating in Southern Africa. About 300,000 (19%) of the 1.6 million population of Untitled Botswana are estimated to be living with AIDS, the worst (%) in Southern Africa and countries worldwide. Untitled South Africa alone is estimated to have about 4.7 million cases of HIV/AIDS; with more than 500,000 added since the previous estimate by the end of 1999.

The various "AIDS Maps of Untitled Africa " (view map links included below) provide more detailed pictographic representations of the extent of Untitled HIV infection, for both HIV-1 and HIV-2, in "High-Risk" and "Low-Risk" (read footnote for definitions) populations in various countries and regions in Untitled Africa .

Worldwide & Sub-Saharan African countries most affected by HIV/AIDS
AIDS Maps of Africa:
Untitled Overview: HIV-1 & HIV-2; High-Risk & Low-Risk Populations
Untitled East, West, Central, Southern and Northern Africa

HIV-1, the Untitled HIV strain more prevalent in other parts of the world, including Western countries, is prevalent also in Untitled Sub-Saharan Africa (view map links above). However, unlike other regions of the world, some countries in Sub-Saharan Untitled Africa also have high rate of infection with a related virus strain, HIV-2, localized mainly in Western Africa (view map links above). Infections with the HIV-2 strain are more rare in other parts of the world, and have been traced ultimately to come from sources in Untitled Africa .

The prevalence of the HIV-2 strain in Untitled Africa , as well as other human and animal Untitled HIV related to the HIV-1 strain plus the early "beachhead" of the Untitled AIDS epidemic in some countries in Untitled Sub-Saharan Africa suggest strongly that the human strain of Untitled HIV may have its origins from Untitled Africa and may have evolved from related animal viruses, e.g., the simian virus (SIV).

Though reported cases of infection with HIV-2 strain are still rare (compared to the prevalence of HIV-1 infection) in other parts of the world, globalization may alter this demography if the HIV-2 strain infection is not contained in Untitled Africa .

AIDS Epidemic Around the World. After Untitled Sub-Saharan Africa , some countries in Untitled Latin America and the Caribbean , especially the Caribbean countries have the second highest rate of Untitled HIV infection in the world. There is also an alarming increase of Untitled HIV infection in some of the Untitled Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia . In comparison with Untitled Sub-Saharan Africa or the Caribbean, the rate of infection is lower (<1%) in many of the Untitled Asia and the Pacific countries. The exceptions are Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand where the rate of infection exceeds 1% among 15-49-year-olds. However, with the huge total population of the Asian region, even a small percentage increase of Untitled HIV infection would translate into a significant number of people living with Untitled HIV/AIDS . India, for example, has about 4 million people living with Untitled HIV/AIDS , one of the highest in the world.

Untitled Geographic (worldwide) incidence of HIV and AIDS. Darker red (mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa) signifies higher occurence of HIV/AIDS. View color code to estimate % occurence.
Untitled Click on figure for the latest pictographic image of the estimated annual number of new HIV infections worldwide (2003), and by region, 1988 to 2003 (pdf, 2 MB)

Earlier inaction among many leaders in less developed countries may have contributed to why almost 70% of the 40 million living with Untitled HIV/AIDS in the world reside in countries of Untitled Sub-Saharan Africa . However, there are many contributory factors. The vestiges of centuries of colonialism left very unstable feudal systems where wealth is concentrated in the very few. Endemic poverty among the majority of the population led to forced servitude and prostitution. Despair from impoverished conditions also formented drug use where they are readily available. And drug use among the poor encourages prostitution to support the habit. Political instability also led to civil strifes that formented mobility among the general population and the prominence of the military culture in many of the less developed countries.

All the above factors created the conditions that led to rapid spread of the disease.

In some countries, certain cultural practices and traditions, such as circumcision, tattooing, breast feeding, etc. contributed to the spread of the disease. Even the custom of taking the wife of a dead relative -- meant to stabilize the society by avoiding destitution of the widowed wife -- became a fertile mechanism of spreading the disease.