HIV Marches On

PARIS--The number of people infected with HIV rose 10% this year, to an estimated 33.4 million worldwide, according to a report released today by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the World Health Organization. "This is gloomy news," Peter Piot, UNAIDS's executive director, said at a press conference today. Half of all new infections were in 15- to 24-year-olds--about 7000 per day.

Hardest hit are the sub-Saharan African countries, where almost 12 million people have died from AIDS-related diseases--83% of all AIDS deaths so far. This region had 4 million new infections in 1998, and the infection rate shows no signs of ebbing. "The worst is yet to come," predicts Agathe Lawson, UNAIDS's representative in Côte d'Ivoire.

While deaths from AIDS have plummeted in North America and Western Europe, health officials have made few inroads into limiting the spread of HIV. As with every year for the past decade, the number of new infections has hovered at about 75,000.