"An estimated 650,000 children have lost a parent to AIDS in Zambia (20% of the population is Muslim), an African country where 20 percent of adults suffer from AIDS/HIV"

The Muslim population in Africa represents about 65% of all the African people. AIDS kills some 6,000 people each day in Africa, which amounts to more deaths than caused by wars, famines and floods. Africa is home to 70% of the adults and 80% of the children living with HIV in the world. The estimated number of newly infected adults and children in Africa reached 3.5 million at the end of 2001. It has also been estimated that 28.5 million adults and children were living with HIV/AIDS in Africa by the end of the year. AIDS deaths totaled 3 million globally in 2001, and of that total, 2.2 million AIDS deaths occurred in Africa alone.

In some countries, most notably Uganda and Senegal, there have been notable successes in the fight against AIDS, but a lot remains to be done.

Senegal: Senegal, where 92% of the population is Muslim, has one of the lowest rates of HIV infection in Africa. This is due to strong political support for prevention programs from the very beginning of the disease. Senegal stands for one of Africa's success stories in the fight against AIDS. An estimated 2% of the population (10 million) is thought to carry the HIV infection. This compares to Senegalrates of between 20% and 30% in other countries of the continent.
Instead of denying the reality of the danger of the disease, Senegal's government began to take energetic measures to prevent the spread of the infection, as long ago as 1989. The country's religious leaders tolerate an open discussion about sex education and do not discourage programs, which make condoms available to young people. Prostitution is carefully controlled. The prostitutes are required to have regular medical check-ups and are thoroughly educated on the risk from HIV/AIDS. It is a country where people are tolerant and accepting. It is not a taboo for the Muslim Senegalese to talk about condoms and safe sexual relationships in the marriage boundaries. Condoms are even discussed in schools during classes about "Family Economy". The tolerance and the existence of institutions as JAMRA (i.e spark), a highly successful Islamic organization, which started off working against drug use and youth delinquency among young people, now mainly, focuses on HIV/AIDS. These are just some of the reasons for the low rate of HIV infected people in this country.

NigeriaNigeria: Nigeria where 60% of the population is Muslim, is one of the five most seriously affected countries in West Africa. The Nigerian AIDS situation is very worrying. There is a 6% infection rate in the population. Being home to more than 125 million people, even a low rate of infection of AIDS can be disastrous in this country. It has the potential to explode if not controlled. The main problem is the lack of infrastructure and coordination to organize a prevention program in such a big country. As opposed to Senegal, talking about sex is still a taboo in Nigeria. Sex education is not taught in schools and there are no campaigns for the use of condoms. Although the availability of information on the AIDS and its dangers is adequate, Nigeria has a long way to go before eradicating the HIV presence in the country.

EthiopiaEthiopia: According to the CIA Wordfact, 45% to 50% of the population is Muslim. "The alarming spread of the disease which is attacking the youngsters could be a great deterrent to the efforts of the nation in achieving sustainable development and democratic order," says the Ethiopian President Girma Woldegiorgis. He told MPs it was imperative that government policies were implemented to help escape the "quagmire" of poverty. "Needless to say the HIV epidemic is badly affecting the main working force of the nation in urban and rural areas," he added. UNAIDS estimates that the rate of HIV infection in the adult population at the end of 1999 was about 10.6 percent, and that AIDS was responsible for some 280,000 deaths in Ethiopia in that year. Given the fact that Ethiopia has a population of about 60 million people,even a low rate of HIV would mean a high level of HIV infected people. The AIDS scourge has also left more than 700,000 children orphaned. Of Addis Ababa's 2.5 million inhabitants, nearly 21 percent of all adults are infected in 2002. It seems that most Ethiopians still fail to take precautions against contracting the disease which is devastating their country.
Read : 2001/2002 survey finds Ethiopia HIV/AIDS risk awareness "very low"

UgandaUganda: 15% to 25% people are Muslims in Uganda. The youth are most likely to hear about AIDS through educational talks organized at their schools by Youth NGOs and through plays by contracted professional performers. Sex education programmes in schools and on the radio focused on the need to negotiate safe sex and encouraged teenagers to delay the age at which they first have sex. Since 1990, a USAID-funded scheme to increase condom use through social marketing of condoms has boosted condom use from 7% nationwide to over 50% in rural areas and over 85% in urban areas.

The Government has made a significant step of main streaming HIV/AIDS in national poverty eradication instruments. It has been integrated into the four pillars of the poverty eradication action plan (PEAP). This implies that the government funds a portion of HIV/AIDS activities at all levels through the poverty action fund (PAF). PAF is a finance mechanism for PEAP priority programs that channels debt relief funds. Thanks to the untiring efforts of the government, there is a decline in HIV prevalence from 30% to 10% in worst affected urban areas, an increase of knowledge about HIV/AIDS, a decreased stigmatization and discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS and finally the age of first sexual intercourse has risen from 14 to 16.4 years within the last five years. HIV prevalence among 13-19-year-old girls has fallen significantly over an eight-year period (1990/1998), while the rate in teenage boys, always much lower because boys are less likely than girls to have partners in the older, more heavily infected age groups, has remained roughly stable. The percentage of teenage girls who had ever used a condom tripled between 1994 and 1997. HIV infection rates fell from 46% in 1992 to 30% in 1998. Uganda has made a considerable dent in the progress of the epidemic compared to the magnitude of the epidemic, however there is still a long way to go before eradicating this disease in the country.

GambiaThe Gambia: 96.4% of the Gambian population is Muslim. The basic social indicators clearly demonstrate pervasive poverty in the country. According to the national Household Poverty survey, the poor constitute 55 percent of households and 69 percent of the population. According to this survey, 37 percent of households are food poor and 18 percent are non-food poor. Wide variations exist in the incidence of poverty between households and persons in different geographical locations with higher incidences in the rural areas. For example, only 50% of the population has access to clean drinking water. 37% of Gambian households and 51% of the population are extremely poor. The Gambia, like many other countries in Africa, faces very serious development challenges and a very high poverty rate, which could be aggravated by delayed action in effectively responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

TanzaniaTanzania/Zanzibar: 67.3% are Muslims. Although basic knowledge about HIV/AIDS has increased and become generally high in Tanzania, most local people lack adequate support to help them make informed choices on their sexual practices, according to UNICEF. In a 2001 report entitled "Situation analysis of children in Zanzibar: 2001", UNICEF said there was a wide gap between the basic knowledge among the local people of ways to avoid contracting HIV/AIDS and the opportunities available to ensure safer sex. While most people (94.1 percent of women and 97.6 percent of men) knew about HIV, and condoms as a key method of protection against its transmission, social acceptability was limited, with less than half stating that it was acceptable for a woman to ask a man to use a condom. USAid has been working with the government in many programs to improve the health of Tanzanians and curb the spread of HIV/AIDS. "Ensuring a consistent supply of condoms is a top priority of all stakeholders working in family health programs and HIV/AIDS prevention." In the month of August 2002, the country was embroiled in a highly charged debate over the use of condoms to help stem HIV infection. The debate was about convincing the religious leaders to advise their followers to use the condoms for protection from HIV. Catholic and Muslim leaders immediately rejected the idea.

In 1984, 3 years after the first reports of a disease that was to become known as AIDS, researchers discovered the primary causative viral agent, the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). In 1986, a second type of HIV, called HIV-2, was isolated from AIDS patients in West Africa, where it may have been present decades earlier. Studies of the natural history of HIV-2 are limited, but to date comparisons with HIV-1 show some similarities while suggesting differences.
Both HIV-1 and HIV-2 have the same modes of transmission and are associated with similar opportunistic infections and AIDS. In persons infected with HIV-2, immunodeficiency seems to develop more slowly and to be milder. Compared with persons infected with HIV-1, those with HIV-2 are less infectious early in the course of infection. As the disease advances, HIV-2 infectiousness seems to increase; however, compared with HIV-1, the duration of this increased infectiousness is shorter. HIV-1 and HIV-2 also differ in geographic patterns of infection; the United States has few reported cases.

HIV-2 infections are predominantly found in Africa. West African nations with a prevalence of HIV-2 of more than 1% in the general population are Cape Verde, Cte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Other West African countries reporting HIV-2 are Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Niger, So Tom, Senegal, and Togo.

Thanks to several programmes, the overall incidence of HIV infection in Africa now appears to be stabilizing. Because the long-standing African epidemic have already reached large numbers of people whose behavior makes them more vulnerable to exposure to HIV, and because effective prevention measures in some countries have enabled the general population to reduce their risk to exposure, the annual number of new infections has stabilized and even fallen in some countries. These decreases have now begun to balance out the still-rising infection rates in other parts of Africa, particularly the southern part of the continent. Overall, the total of 3.5 million infected people in 2001 was slightly less than the regional total of 3.8 million in 2000. But this trend will not continue if countries such as Nigeria begin experiencing a rapid increase.
(source:These figures are estimates at the end of 2001, published by UNAIDS in the "Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic, July 2002")


Impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic