War Spreading HIV in African Nations; Congo Experiencing Increase in Disease Prevalence
November 13, 2003
The "cycle of war" in African countries is spreading HIV, the Washington Post reports (Wax, Washington Post, 11/13). Civil war in African nations, including Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has helped HIV "flourish" through "widespread rape, displacement of hundreds of thousands of people with little or no access to health care or condoms, and the increase in prostitutes following soldiers in a ruined economy," according to the Washington Times. The spread of HIV in "war-ravaged countr[ies] bereft of the means to treat or even monitor its spread" is a "hidden crisis" on the continent, the Times reports (Thibodeaux, Washington Times, 11/13). In countries where "war has been more common than peace" over the last several decades -- including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Congo -- HIV prevalence has "ballooned," according to the Post. For example, in Congo before the war, approximately 5% of the population was HIV-positive; however, in areas of the country where fighting has been most intense, 20% of the population is thought to be HIV-positive, according to a UNAIDS program in Kinshasa and the government's Health Ministry (Washington Post, 11/13). HIV/AIDS is "destroying" Congolese society, with 1.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS and 680,000 AIDS orphans in the country, the Times reports.
Rape and Military Personnel
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