Army AIDS crisis claims dismissed
Thursday 19 August 2004
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SOUTH AFRICA: Army AIDS crisis claims dismissed


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


JOHANNESBURG, 3 August (PLUSNEWS) - Reports of a crisis in the combat-readiness of South Africa's National Defence Force (SANDF) due to HIV/AIDS were dismissed by the Minister of Defence, Mosiuoa Lekota.

His response followed claims by experts at a recent AIDS workshop in KwaZulu-Natal province that AIDS was threatening the fighting fitness of SANDF soldiers.

Statistics cited during the conference revealed that of the 1,089 SANDF soldiers who had volunteered for testing, 947 were HIV-positive - an infection rate of 89 percent. The SANDF's official figures for HIV/AIDS prevalence stands at 23 percent.

"Nothing that we do not already know has been learnt from this workshop. Just like the rest of South Africa, the defence force has members who are infected with the virus - this does not mean that we are experiencing major problems or facing a disaster. We have several plans of action in place to combat the epidemic," a local newspaper, The Mercury, quoted Lekota as saying.

[ENDS]

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Links
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
AEGIS
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