tries in recent years, increases in mortality among 25-35-year-olds are evident in the least developed countries, raising cause for some concern.

Continued reductions in mortality seem likely, with the major exception of countries strongly affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has already taken a huge toll on the population of young people in sub-Saharan Africa and a few other places. It poses a serious and imminent threat in many other places, including countries with the largest populations of young people, China and India.

Most developing regions show considerably higher HIV prevalence among females ages 15-24 than among males. This is especially true in Africa, where prevalence rates among females are more than double those of males. Globally, almost 12 million people ages 15-24 were estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in 2002. About three-quarters of these live in sub-Saharan Africa. The young age structure of countries hardest hit by the pandemic means that about half of all new infections are now occurring among this age group.

Mortality and morbidity related to pregnancy and childbirth, a substantial proportion of which is a direct consequence of unsafe abortion, are one of the most significant risks to the health of girls and young women. The lifetime risk of dying from maternal causes is more than 40 times greater among women in developing than developed countries. This disparity in risk indicates that the vast majority of these deaths are preventable.19

Compared with young women, young men in developing countries are disproportionately likely to be affected by road traffic accidents, violence, war, and suicide. There are some striking geographic patterns in these health risks that appear to be linked to other regional trends. For example, comparatively high and rising rates of homicide among young people in Latin America have been linked to rising income inequality, and high rates of road traffic fatalities in South-eastern Asia to increasing affluence. In some countries, for example, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Sudan, violence caused by civil war has characterized the experience of an entire generation of young men.


A number of major ongoing research programs are investigating the effectiveness of interventions to reduce maternal mortality in developing countries. These include the IMPAACT project at the University of Aberdeen, the Averting Maternal Death and Disability project at Columbia University, and the Safe Motherhood Initiative at Family Care International.

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