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Global Snapshot

Global Snapshot


HIV infection rates in Australia are returning to the high levels seen in the early 1990s, according to the United Nations. Most of the new infections can be traced to sex between men. The HIV prevalence rate in the Bahamas and Haiti is now above 3% each, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. The region of the Caribbean, where the two island nations are located, is home to at least 330,000 HIV-positive residents. The vaunted HIV treatment in Brazil could be unsustainable due to rising drug costs. Spending on anti-HIV drugs doubled to nearly U.S. $435 million between 2001 and 2005. Further increases could cause financial constraints, says a United Nations report. Although China recently elected a board to oversee the disbursement of grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, activists are contesting the elections. Many activists and representatives of nongovernmental organizations say they did not even receive ballots. Ivica Kirin, Croatia's interior minister, has barred HIV-positive people from police work in the country. Advocates say he may have overstepped his legal bounds in implementing the ban. AIDS advocates say a reluctance to teach HIV information to students in Guatemala fuels rising HIV rates in the country and leads to AIDS-related stigma. Only three of the nation's 22 provinces offer HIV education programs targeting youths. Because married women in India typically are faithful to their husbands, the spread of HIV in the country may be limited. Infected sex workers pass the virus along to their male customers, who in turn infect their wives, but the infection chain seems to end there, according to a new study. Injection-drug use is leading to rising HIV infection rates in Iran. The nation is believed to have as many as 3.5 million injection-drug users, about 40,000 of whom are infected with HIV. That number is expected to rise to 100,000 by March 2008. Kenya's public hospitals have stopped charging HIV patients for antiretroviral drugs. The fee had been about U.S. $1.40 a day for the drugs, but 60% of the nation's population lives on less than $1 a day. Officials in Malawi say they plan to expand the nation's free antiretroviral treatment program to include at least 70,000 HIV patients by the end of the year. About 46,000 people receive the free drugs, up from 4,000 two years ago. HIV prevalence is rapidly increasing in Tijuana, Mexico, health officials say. Prevalence among injection-drug users has tripled, and the prevalence rate among sex workers has increased nearly 10-fold since the 1990s. Officials in Russia say a lack of coordination between national and regional AIDS officials has resulted in a serious shortage of anti-HIV drugs in some parts of the nation. Producers of Isidingo, a top soap opera in South Africa, have decided to have one of its main characters be diagnosed with HIV disease in an effort to help break AIDS-related stigma in the country. Activists say Thailand's once-successful HIV prevention program has all but shut down and that many planned initiatives were never implemented. As a result, condom use is down and sexually transmitted disease rates are rising. A report by the United Kingdom's National AIDS Trust suggests the country is not doing enough to fight the disease. The report claims that less political focus on AIDS issues has helped lead to a decrease in knowledge about HIV transmission. Lawmakers in Vietnam passed a law authorizing needle-exchange programs. About one third of drug users in Vietnam are already HIV-positive, health officials say. Zimbabwe's National AIDS Council says it will try to increase the number of HIV patients receiving anti-HIV drugs from about 32,000 to 70,000 by the end of the year.

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