On World AIDS Day, a Shadow Looms Over Southern Africa

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Science  04 Dec 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5395, pp. 1790-1791
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5395.1790

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PARIS-- According to the United Nations' latest statistics, released last week, an estimated 5.8 million people worldwide were newly infected with HIV in 1998, bringing the total number of HIV-infected people to 33.4 million. Nearly 70% of the new infections occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, which continues to be the hardest hit region of the globe. Yet AIDS activists and physicians continue to question whether political leaders are treating the epidemic with the urgency it deserves, most notably in South Africa, where health officials have decided not to provide the antiviral drug AZT to HIV-infected pregnant women--despite its proven effectiveness in preventing transmission of the virus to their offspring--because, they argue, it is too expensive.