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The paper presents the general status of HIV/AIDS in East Africa and Africa in general. It draws most of its materials from articles, commentaries and publications on HIV/AIDS in the region and focuses on the magnitude of the problem, constraints to HIV/AIDS prevention and control, the impacts of the disease, and the main approaches to interventions in the region. Finally, the paper looks at the current trends and outlines the role of LWR in the region.

i) Magnitude of the problem and ramifications

The HIV/AIDS pandemic has become an emergency in the region. In the last two decades it has grown by leaps and bounds. Starting from nil in the early 1980s, by 1998, Sub-Sahara Africa had 22 million people infected with HIV/AIDS. At the time, UNAIDS estimated the total AIDS infection in the world to be 34 million people. In Kenya where the first AIDS case was reported in 1984, it is now estimated that 2.2 million people are infected in a population of around 30 million people. One out of 6 adults are infected. By June 1999, there were 87,070 reported AIDS cases, while the actual number of AIDS cases was estimated to be 760,000 and 1,900,000 HIV infections in Kenya. Below is an example of the HIV/AIDS in some selected sites in Kenya.

COAST PROVINCE IN KENYA: Data obtained from hospitals in coast province give a shocking revelation. For example, during the year 2000, out of 35,201 admissions in the medical wards, 15,840 were HIV/AIDS related cases and out of the 2,243 deaths, 1,346 were HIV/AIDS related. Below is the trend given by monthly screening for HIV/AIDS by the Ministry of Health at the Coast.

Year 2000 Monthly trends on HIV/AIDS tests at the coast, Kenya

JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV Number Screened 127 163 229 170 225 213 201 215 233 237 244 HIV positive 72 114 153 105 134 142 107 131 145 151 153 % Of HIV positive 57 70 67 62 60 67 53 61 65 64 63

NB. The statistics represent HIV/AIDS preference on those seeking medical services and not the general HIV/AIDS status in the general population.

Countries in the region, notably, Kenya and Uganda have declared HIV/AIDS National Disasters. Estimates in Kenya projected 3.0 million infections by 2005 against 2.2 million in 2000. Death rate is expected to rise, at all ages from 560 persons per day in 2000 to 740 persons per day in 2005. Projections for 2000 seem to have been surpassed. The US government has given $20m to fight HIV/AIDS in Kenya. The need to target the youth is highlighted by the fact that the infection rates are growing astronomically among girls aged 15-19, mainly those that are sexually active and have dropped out of school due to poverty. Statistics show that 20% of the girls, aged between 14-19 in Western Kenya, are HIV positive but only 2% of the boys in the same age have HIV/AIDS.

Infection rate differs with respect to urbanization, regions, and communities and from one country to another. The range is between 10-30%. In 2000, alone 2 Million people in Africa died of AIDS. Africa has two thirds of the people living with HIV/AIDS in the World. The case study below provides an insight into HIV/AIDS spread in the continent.

Case study: The setting is the African continent, key players are the United Nations Department for Information, and the debate is the HIV/AIDS preference on country per country basis. Read all in the attachment AIDS in an endangered continent

The UN Security Council recognizes AIDS in Africa as a threat to social and political stability. HIV/AIDS can infect anybody; doctors, preachers, priests, mothers and children. It does not respect class and status in the society; it doesnt differentiate color, background or believes. It kills indiscriminately and has a long incubation period in healthy societies where it waits to strike when least expected. The case study below indicates the extent and outreach of the disease.

Case study: The setting is the Catholic Church and the players and victims are some of the men and women dedicated to serve the Lord. Read how the priests sought Nuns for fear of contracting AIDS in Nuns sexually abused, says report.

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Other Articles of Interest:

What Would Jesus Do About Aids?
by Jonathan Frerichs, LWR Communication Director

Standing With Africa
by LWR President, Kathryn Wolford

Stand With Africa: A Campaign of Hope?
Written by Cathie DeGonia, Stand With Africa Campaign Communication Coordinator

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Written by Asenath Omwega, LWR Regional Representative East Africa