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International News

Survival International Says HIV Spreading Among Indigenous Communities

December 10, 2007

Social upheaval and growing contact with outsiders are fueling rising rates of HIV/AIDS among the world's indigenous communities, according to a report released ahead of World AIDS Day by Survival International.

Based in London, Survival International advocates for the rights of the world's tribal peoples. "Tribal people die because their land is invaded and taken and because they succumb to outside diseases they never knew before," said Stephen Corry, its director. "Increasingly now we can add HIV/AIDS to the list of killers. It is striking the most vulnerable peoples of all: those who have no grasp of the risks of unprotected sex; no access to condoms; no appropriate treatment; and whose numbers are already small," Corry said.

The report, "Progress Can Kill," cited several examples showing how the disease can affect indigenous communities:

  • In West Papua, which is home to 312 different tribes, HIV/AIDS rates are up to 15 times higher than in Indonesia overall.
  • AIDS was "virtually unknown" among the tribes of Botswana's Central Kalahari before tribespeople were forced from their homeland by the government. Afterwards, "In New Xade resettlement camp in 2002, at least 40 percent of Bushman deaths were due to AIDS," the report said.
  • Brazil's Yanomani Indians say soldiers "stationed on their land have brought gonorrhea and syphilis to their communities through sexual exploitation of tribal women. They fear the soldiers will also transmit HIV/AIDS," Survival International said.

To address the crisis, the report said, "The first solution is the simplest -- governments must ensure tribal lands are properly protected."

Back to other news for December 2007

Adapted from:
Agence France Presse

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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