Nations Prepare for World AIDS Day
A U.S. delegation was sent to hard-hit Afric to urge its leaders to increase awareness about the deadly virus.
The United Nations reported last week that 2003 saw more deaths and infections from HIV and AIDS than ever before, with more than 3 million people killed and another 5 million infected. That brought the total number of people living with the virus to 34 million to 46 million.Actually, it's well past time. We dropped the ball on this one; it's encouraging to see we appear to be picking it up. Who would have thought that decades after its appearance, we'd be seeing record numbers of AIDS infections instead of its irradication.
UNAIDS, the U.N. agency that coordinates global efforts to fight the disease, said the epidemic was rampant in sub-Saharan Africa and that a new wave of the disease was threatening China, Indonesia and Russia because of transmissions through drug use and unsafe sex.
To try to raise awareness on the African continent, an 80-member U.S. delegation headed by Health and Human Services (news - web sites) Secretary Tommy Thompson started a tour of sub-Saharan Africa on Sunday to asses projects and determine what needs to be done to increase treatment and prevent the spread of the virus.
"This is a terribly serious problem," Thompson said at the Frankfurt airport before heading to Africa. "It is time for all of us, especially from America, to do our part to prevent it."