21 Pages

Introduction: The many epidemics of HIV

UNAIDS, the joint United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS, declares HIV ‘the most globalized epidemic in history’ (2004); Nelson Mandela calls it ‘one of the greatest threats humankind has faced’ (2000). Of approximately 39.5 million HIV positive people in the world, 24.7 million live in subSaharan Africa, with about 5.5 million in South Africa (UNAIDS, 2006; UNAIDS/WHO, 2006). UNAIDS (2006) says that the country’s AIDS epidemic – ‘one of the worst in the world – shows no evidence of a decline’.1