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HIV/AIDS Programs' Limited Time Spans, Other Issues Hinder Efforts to Curb Disease in Mozambique, Official Says

August 15, 2007

The limited time span and lack of sustainability and diversity of many HIV/AIDS programs in Mozambique are undermining efforts to address effectively the epidemic in the country, Cornelio Balane, executive director of the Mozambican Business Against AIDS Association, also known as EcoSIDA, said Friday during a lecture in Maputo, Mozambique, AIM/ reports.

Some HIV/AIDS prevention projects have a "limited life span -- such as three, six months or just one year" -- which hinders efforts to adequately address issues associated with the disease, Balane said. Balane also voiced concerns about the concentration of HIV/AIDS organizations in urban areas compared with rural and remote areas; the lack of infrastructure and trained medical staff in some areas; the high costs of antiretroviral drugs; inadequate access to balanced diets among HIV-positive people; and the diversity of sociocultural traditions in each region.

Balane proposed scaling up efforts to reduce the number of HIV/AIDS cases in the country, particularly among people ages 15 to 49, AIM/ reports. She said a close partnership between the public and private sectors could help counter the epidemic's negative impact on the economy and work force. According to EcoSIDA, HIV/AIDS often results in a loss of income and related employee benefits, discrimination, family pressure and an increasing number of AIDS orphans -- all of which have a direct impact on the business sector.

In addition, the spread of HIV in the workplace weakens companies by causing employee absenteeism, loss of trained staff, additional costs involved in the adjustment and replacement of staff, and medical expenses for those who are sick, according to EcoSIDA. "The workplace is the best location to spread messages on HIV/AIDS and carry out awareness campaigns because this is where workers spend most of their time, but it is still being neglected," Balane said.

National surveys show HIV/AIDS prevalence in Mozambique rose from 13% in 2002 to 16% in 2004 and will reach 20% by 2020. Other data show that the country has lost about 8% of its work force to the disease (AIM/, 8/13).

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