The Current State of the Epidemic:
Why We Need to Step Up Our Efforts

7. The global epidemic is devastating poorer countries and threatening richer ones

HIV is a global problem, and parts of the world are being overwhelmed by the epidemic. According to the UNAIDS 2004 Report on the global AIDS epidemic, almost 5 million more people worldwide were newly infected with HIV in 2004 -- the greatest number in any year since the beginning of the epidemic -- and 3 million died of AIDS-related illnesses. Over 20 million have died since the first cases of AIDS were identified in 1981. In 2004, 39.4 million people -- more than the population of Canada -- were living with HIV.25

The countries most affected are those with the fewest resources. Over 95% of HIV infections are occurring in poor and/or developing countries. In some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, over 30% of the population is infected, and AIDS threatens to wipe out an entire generation. AIDS is now the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa and the fourth biggest global killer. The virus is also spreading rapidly in other parts of the world, including the Caribbean, India, China and Southeast Asia, and in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where it is fuelled by injection drug use (IDU).26 HIV has the potential to devastate emerging economies and destabilize governments. The impact will be felt worldwide.

Because diseases do not respect borders, Canada cannot stop the HIV epidemic at home without helping to stop it worldwide. Canada also has a legal and ethical obligation to contribute to global efforts to stop disease and suffering.

Footnotes

25
UNAIDS. UNAIDS 2004 Report on the global AIDS epidemic.

26
Ibid.

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