Millions of people around the world are marking World Aids Day with marches and prayers, amid grim statistics that show the epidemic is outpacing all efforts to control it.
Estimates released by the United Nations show 42-million people worldwide now have either AIDS or H-I-V, the virus that causes the disease.
Nearly half the cases are women, and 30-million of them are in sub-Saharan Africa.
In South Africa, a Johannesburg-based orphanage commemorated the day by burying the ashes of babies who died of AIDS-related illnesses. South Africa has one of the highest H-I-V infection rates in the world, with five million of its 46-million citizens carrying the virus.
Meanwhile, U-N AIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said Saturday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that the social prejudice against people with AIDS could be as destructive as the disease itself. He says the stigma associated with the disease is an obstacle to effective prevention and treatment programs.
The virus appears to be spreading. Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with one-point-two million cases, now show the fastest-growing epidemics, while officials fear China and India are also seeing a rise in AIDS cases.