NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 28, 2006

Within the next 25 years, AIDS is set to join heart disease and stroke as the top three causes of death worldwide, according to a study published Monday.

When global mortality projections were last calculated a decade ago, researchers had assumed the number of AIDS cases would be declining.  Instead, it's on the rise:

  • Currently ranked fourth behind heart disease, stroke, and respiratory infections, AIDS is set to become No. 3, say researchers in a new report in the Public Library of Science's Medicine journal; it already accounts for about 2.8 million deaths annually.
  • The researchers estimate a total of nearly 120 million people could die in the next 25 years.
  • Overall, the researchers predict that in three decades, the causes of global mortality will be strikingly similar worldwide -- apart from the prevalence of AIDS in poorer countries.
  • Most people will be dying at older ages of non-infectious diseases like cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer.

Colin Mathers and Dejan Loncar of the World Health Organization estimate that about 120 million people will die from AIDS from 2006 to 2030.  In an optimistic future projection, if new HIV infections are curbed and access to life-prolonging anti-retrovirals is increased, 89 million people will die from the disease.

Source: Maria Cheng, "AIDS to be 3rd leading cause of death," Associated Press/USA Today, November 28, 2006.

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