Although we usually highlight a singular outrage, this week we draw attention to a global outrage: the AIDS epidemic and its disproportionate impact upon women worldwide and in the U.S.
Last week the United Nations released the latest global survey of the epidemic. The news was expectedly outrageous: At least 5.4 million people were newly infected in 1999, including 2.3 million women 15 to 49, and 620,000 children under 15, many of whom are girls.
Next week at the Thirteenth International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, scientists, health care workers, officials, lawmakers and advocates will be discussing the scourge, its prevention and treatment, as well as strategies and limited resources for the war on AIDS.
The U.N. report contains more disturbing statistics, using data from December 1999. The global report defines women as being 15 to 49.
- 14.8 million women were living with HIV/AIDS last year, out of a total 33.6 million people. Another 1.3 million were children under 15.
- 1.2 million women died last year, out of a total of 2.8 million people. Another 500,000 children died.
- 6.2 million women and 500,000 children have died since the beginning of the epidemic that claimed a total of 16.3 people.
- 13.2 million children under 15 lost a mother or both parents to AIDS since the start of the epidemic.
And in the United States:
- 170,000 women (15 to 49) were living with HIV/AIDS at the end of last year, among a total of 850,000 adults. They constitute 23 percent of all cases and the number is rising.