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Worldwide today more than 30 million people are now living with HIV/AIDS, a figure larger than the combined populations of Australia, Ireland, and Paraguay. Estimates indicate that Africa has 21 million of these victims. According to United Nations figures, by the turn of the century, that number could soar to 40 million people. One UN report says that the disease rivals the greatest epidemics of history. Of the world's sexually active adults aged 15 to 49, 1 in 100 has already been infected with HIV. Of these, only 1 in 10 realizes that he or she is infected. In some parts of Africa, 25 percent of the adults are infected.

Since the beginning of the epidemic in 1981, an estimated 11.7 million people have died of AIDS. It is estimated that in 1997 alone, about 2.3 million people perished. Nevertheless, there are fresh reasons for optimism in the battle against AIDS. During the past few years, there has been a drop in new AIDS cases in wealthy nations. In addition, promising drugs hold out hope of better health and prolonged life.

How can you protect yourself against AIDS? What are the latest developments in treatment and vaccines? Will the disease ever be vanquished? These questions will be answered by you and only you alone.

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