Continued HIV/AIDS Progress Could Lead to Increased Life Expectancy, Population Among Developing Countries, U.N. Report Says
Life expectancy in developing countries could increase to 69 years by 2050 if the global health community sustains progress in controlling HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, according to a report released Wednesday by the United Nations Population Division, Montreal's Gazette reports (Edwards, Gazette, 3/12).
For the report, titled "2008 Revision of the U.N.'s World Population Prospects," the United Nations compiled findings from recent census reports and population surveys around the world (Lederer, AP/Los Angeles Times, 3/11). According to the report, successes in reducing child mortality played a significant role in increasing projected life expectancy. Although the emergence of HIV/AIDS threatened to offset these gains in recent decades, global efforts to control the disease have begun to achieve success, the Gazette reports. The report found that developing nations that had rapidly advancing economies before the current economic downturn are expected to experience an increase in life expectancy from 67 years in 2009 to 75 years in 2050. In addition, the life expectancy in industrialized countries currently is 77 years and is expected to rise to 83 years over the next four decades, the report said (Gazette, 3/12).
The report estimated that the world's population will increase to seven billion by 2012 and nine billion by 2050, with developing countries in Asia and Africa fueling the majority of the increase. According to the United Nations, the population projections will depend on the success of efforts to prevent the spread of HIV and provide antiretroviral medications to people living with the disease. Hania Zlotnik, director of the U.N. Population Division, said the "good news" is that new data indicate that the "HIV/AIDS epidemic is not as bad as had been expected." The United Nations also said the projected population figures depend on a decline in family size from an average of 2.56 children per woman to 2.02 children per woman.
The report also projected that population growth will occur primarily in the most populous countries over the next four decades, with nine countries accounting for half of the estimated increase. According to the report, India will account for the largest proportion of population growth, followed by Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, the U.S., Congo, Tanzania, China and Bangladesh. In addition, the report estimated that the fastest population growth will occur among the 49 least-developed nations, which are predicted to double in population from 840 million in 2009 to 1.7 billion in 2050 (AP/Los Angeles Times, 3/11).
Selected tables from the U.N. report are available online (.pdf). A database of the findings also is available online.