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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

AIDS Report Shows 30 Million Infected

PARIS -- AIDS has struck the world much harder than previously thought, a UN agency said Wednesday in a report showing more than 30 million people are infected -- one-third more than earlier estimated.

About 16,000 people are infected daily, one in every 100 sexually active adults under age 49 worldwide has HIV and among those infected, only one in 10 knows it, UNAIDS said in the report released in Paris.

"The main message of our report is the AIDS epidemic is far from over. In fact, it's far worse," Peter Piot, director general of UNAIDS, said at a news conference.

Released ahead of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, the report said if current rates hold steady, those infected with the immune-stripping virus "will soar to 40 million" by the year 2000. The impact of AIDS deaths, which rose an estimated 50 percent this year, "is only just beginning."

Despite advances in AIDS treatment and falling infection rates in the West, the virus is hitting Africa much harder than earlier believed, said the "Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic."

Instead of relying on regional estimates, "for the first time, we went country-to-country to see what was happening," Piot said. "The rate of transmission was grossly underestimated," especially in Nigeria and South Africa, he said.

Rates are also rising in Eastern Europe, primarily due to intravenous drug users and lack of AIDS education, said the report by Geneva-based UNAIDS.

Bernard Kouchner, the French junior minister for health known for his humanitarian efforts over the years, said at the news conference he was pressing for a world fund to fight AIDS.

Kouchner said he would pitch the idea to health conferences in Europe and Africa in the coming weeks, and he invited international institutions and drug companies to back the fund.

Piot welcomed Kouchner's call and urged more funding for prevention and treatment.

The report also called for better education, which it said does not encourage young people to have sex, as some believe. On the contrary, it said sex education "helps delay first intercourse" and reduces teen pregnancy.

Even in the West, Piot said, "prevention efforts are far insufficient for youth. I have a daughter at a lycee here, and what she's getting in terms of sex education is inadequate."

The report said some 5.8 million people have been infected in 1997, and an estimated 5.3 million were infected in 1996, up from the count of 3.1 million people that doctors originally estimated.

A total of 30.6 million live with HIV or AIDS globally, two-thirds of them in sub-Saharan Africa, it said.

The epidemic has struck youth the hardest, Piot said. "Most of them are under 25 years old."

The report estimated that 2.3 million people died of AIDS in 1997 -- a 50 percent increase over 1996. Nearly half of those deaths were among women, and 460,000 were among children under 15.

AIDS is wiping out gains in life expectancy made in the developing world in recent decades and has orphaned 8.4 million children, the report said.