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Switzerland not immune from global rise in Aids cases

Aids activist, Beatrice Aebersold, prepares for World Aids Day

(Keystone)

New figures show that 206 people contracted Aids in Switzerland in the year to October. The statistics from the Swiss Public Health Office, were published ahead of World Aids Day, which takes place on December 1.

According to the government, close to 25,000 people in Switzerland have contracted Aids since its outbreak nearly 20 years ago. Since January, 27 people have died as a result of the illness.

The Geneva-based United Nations Programme on Aids (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have also issued a joint report, showing that worldwide, 5.3 million new Aids cases have been diagnosed this year.

According to the UN and WHO, the situation is particularly bad in eastern Europe where 700,000 people are now living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), compared with 420,000 just a year ago.

UN officials blame the social and economic instability in many eastern European countries for fuelling drug use and commercial sex, both of which lead to the spread of HIV.

The report also shows that around the globe, three million people died from Aids this year, a record number, which brings the total number of Aids-related deaths to 21.8 million since 1984. Three quarters of those victims were in Africa, where 70 per cent of the world's HIV-positive adults reside.

This year's World Aids Campaign, "Men Make a Difference", will focus on men's "potential to make a difference in curbing HIV transmission and caring for infected or orphaned relatives".

The UN says men's behaviour, which is "often influenced by harmful cultural beliefs about masculinity", makes them prime casualties of the epidemic. About 2.5 million men between the ages of 15 and 49 were infected by HIV this year.

swissinfo with agencies


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