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Experts explore rural impact of AIDS
Thursday 4 November 2004
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AFRICA: Experts explore rural impact of AIDS

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

ADDIS ABABA, 12 October (PLUSNEWS) - Africa's cemeteries are "filled beyond capacity" because of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, Ethiopian President Girma Wolde-Giorgis told experts meeting in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Tuesday to discuss combating the spread of the virus.

Opening a session of the Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa (CHGA), a UN-inspired body set up last year to track the long-term impact of the pandemic in Africa, Wolde-Giorgis said HIV/AIDS was fuelling "social decay" and "community breakdown" that threatened the very fabric of African society.

The "CHGA Interactive" meeting brought together leading HIV/AIDS experts and African NGOs to discuss the impact of HIV/AIDS on Africa's rural populations.

According to UNAIDS, an estimated 20 million Africans have died since the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, some 29.4 million are living with the virus and 25 million children have been orphaned.

The CHGA session heard how HIV/AIDS was crippling rural communities in Africa and exacerbating food shortages, with the heaviest burden falling on women.

"HIV/AIDS affects food availability by affecting the labour supply," said Daphne Topouzis, an expert in HIV/AIDS and its impact on food security. "It can affect access to food by eroding household disposable income due to increased expenditure on health."

Joseph Tumushabe, from Uganda's Makerere University, warned that over the next 15 years Africa's agricultural labour force could be decimated by HIV/AIDS. He said studies showed that in Namibia up to 26 percent of the agricultural workforce could die from the virus by 2020. In South Africa a fifth of the workforce could succumb.

Gladys Mutangadura, from the UN's Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), added that women needed support to help cope with the impact, including an increased domestic workload, they often had to care for orphans, and girls were taken out of school to help at home.

She noted that women also often lacked the same property rights as men, losing their land if their husbands died from the virus and facing further exclusion. She said women needed greater access to credit, girls needed support to stay in schools and men had to share the growing burden if the impact of HIV/AIDS was to be mitigated.

The CHGA meeting coincided with the ECA's weeklong African Development Forum in Addis Ababa, which will discuss on Thursday the impact of HIV/AIDS on Africa's capacity to govern, and the challenge of scaling up treatment.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan first announced the CHGA initiative in February 2003. It is chaired by Kingsley Amoako, head of the ECA, and includes among its 20 commissioners Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS, Dr Mamphele Ramphele, managing director of the World Bank, and former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda.

The discussions at the interactive meeting will feed into a final report on the long-term impact of the pandemic in Africa, due for submission to Annan in June 2005.


Recent AFRICA Reports
TAC takes govt to court over ARV rollout timetable,  4/Nov/04
AIDS drugs needed for HIV positive children,  3/Nov/04
IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 205, 29 October 2004,  29/Oct/04
Reducing HIV risk in breastfeeding,  27/Oct/04
Increased need for counselling services,  26/Oct/04
VIH Internet
Sida Info Services
Le Fonds mondial de lutte contre le SIDA, la tuberculose et le paludisme
Le Réseau Afrique 2000

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.

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