Sarah Boseley

Alarming increase in Uganda, says U.N. report

London: The spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic continues unabated, with the number of persons infected rising once more in some countries which had been thought to be beating the disease, according to the U.N.

There are now 39.5 million living with HIV infection, according to the annual UNAIDS report, released ahead of World Aids Day on December 1, and 4.3 million of those were infected in 2006. That is 4,00,000 more than were infected in 2004.

Most alarming is the increased prevalence in Uganda, long held up as a showcase to the world of what could be achieved in Africa with campaigning, education and widespread condom use.

The reasons for the increase are not clear, but there has been a shift in the message coming from Uganda's leadership. Between the early 1990s and early 2000s, HIV prevalence fell sharply in major cities among pregnant women as President Yoweri Museveni worked to raise awareness and put his weight behind condom use. But in recent years the message on condoms has been diluted in favour of an emphasis on abstinence until marriage in line with the thinking of the Bush administration, which is spending millions of dollars on HIV prevention and treatment.

Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006