A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau says the AIDS pandemic is slowing global population growth. According to the Global Population Profile: 2002 report, more than 40 million people are expected to die of AIDS in the next decade. That's twice the number of people that have died of the disease so far. The greatest impact is in the developing world, and sub-Saharan Africa in particular.
The populations of Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe are actually shrinking due to AIDS deaths. In Southern Africa, according to the report, life expectancies are predicted to drop to near 30 years of age, the lowest in a century. The disease is the number one cause of death in Africa, and number four worldwide.
But the Census report suggests there is still reason for hopefulness. It says increased support for programs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of AIDS could bring down future mortality rates. And it notes that some countries have curbed the epidemic.