Epidemiology and Prevalence

HIV was first identified in 1983, 2 years after the first reports were made to the CDC in Atlanta, GA, of an increased incidence of two unusual diseases (Kaposi's sarcoma andpneumocystis carinii pneumonia) occurring among the gay population in San Francisco. The scale of the virus gradually emerged over the years and by the end of 2002, there were an estimated 42 million people throughout the world living with HIV or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). More than 80% of the world's population lives in Africa and India. A report by The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the WHO in 2002 stated that one in five adults in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe has HIV or AIDS. There is also expected to be a sharp rise in cases of HIV in China, Papua New Guinea, and other countries in Asia and the Pacific during the next few years.

In the United Kingdom, by the end of 2002, the cumulative data reported that there were 54,261 individuals with HIV, AIDS (including deaths from AIDS) reported, though this is likely to be an underestimate (22).

From these data, the group still considered at greatest risk of acquiring HIV in the United Kingdom is homosexual/bisexual men, with 28,835 of the cumulative total falling into this category. Among intravenous drug users, the overall estimated prevalence is 1%, but in London the figure is higher at 3.7% (6,23). In the 1980s, up to 90% of users in Edinburgh and Dundee were reported to be HIV positive, but the majority have now died. Individuals arriving from Africa or the Indian subcontinent must also be deemed a risk group because 80% of the world's total cases occur in these areas. The predominant mode of transmission is through unprotected heterosexual intercourse.

The incidence of mother-to-baby transmission has been estimated at 15% in Europe and approx 45% in Africa. The transmission rates among African women are believed to be much higher owing to a combination of more women with end-stage disease with a higher viral load and concomitant placental infection, which renders it more permeable to the virus (24,25). The use of antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy, together with the advice to avoid breastfeeding, has proven efficacious in reducing both vertical and horizontal transmission among HIV-positive women in the western world. For those in third-world countries, the reality is stark. Access to treatment is limited, and there is no realistic substitute for breast milk, which provides a valuable source of antibodies to other life-threatening infections. Patients receiving blood transfusions, organs, or blood products where screening is not routinely carried out must also be included.

New Mothers Guide to Breast Feeding

New Mothers Guide to Breast Feeding

For many years, scientists have been playing out the ingredients that make breast milk the perfect food for babies. They've discovered to day over 200 close compounds to fight infection, help the immune system mature, aid in digestion, and support brain growth - nature made properties that science simply cannot copy. The important long term benefits of breast feeding include reduced risk of asthma, allergies, obesity, and some forms of childhood cancer. The more that scientists continue to learn, the better breast milk looks.

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