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ETHIOPIA: HIV/AIDS awareness programmes increased

Photo: IRIN
ADDIS ABABA, 25 March 2003 (PlusNews) - An international aid organisation in Ethiopia has announced it is stepping up HIV/AIDS awareness, as the country is gripped by drought, to ensure the virus does not further hamper relief efforts.

Save the Children said it would target remote areas in Ethiopia, where families have been hit by the severe drought, to warn of the dangers of HIV/AIDS.

Dennis Walto, deputy programme director of Save the Children US, said that HIV/AIDS can undermine emergency aid work as the virus hits the most productive age group in communities.

"In parts of Africa the emergency situation is said to be worsened or even caused by HIV/AIDS," he said. "We are trying to head off that type of situation by using the emergency as an opportunity to reach hundreds of thousands of remote people with the message about HIV/AIDS."

The organisation uses teenagers within local communities to perform plays and to set up training within community-based committees. It also distributes condoms under the awareness raising scheme, funded by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

"By effectively linking HIV/AIDS prevention activities with our emergency efforts we are ensuring that the provision of life-saving food and water is not coupled with the delivery of this deadly disease," said Walto.

The organisation is targeting areas in Amhara, Oromiya, Harari and Somali regions. Food distribution sites, where hundreds of people gather, have also been used to raise awareness by
handing out leaflets.

Theme (s): Other,

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

Other OCHA Sites
United Nations - OCHA
DFID - UK Department for International Development
Irish Aid
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation - SDC