Advertisement
The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource
Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
  
  • Email Email
  • Printable Single-Page Print-Friendly
  • Glossary Glossary

International News

HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa Should Be Classified as Disaster, Red Cross Report Says

June 27, 2008

The HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa is so severe that it should be classified as a disaster comparable to famine or floods, according to a report released Thursday by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, AFP/Google.com reports. In its annual report, titled "World Disasters Report 2008," IFRC said there is "no doubt" that HIV/AIDS matches the United Nations' definition of a disaster.

According to AFP/Google.com, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs defines a disaster as a "serious disruption of the functioning of a society, causing widespread human, material or environmental losses which exceed the ability of a society to cope using only its own resources." IFRC said that such a situation exists in sub-Saharan Africa, where about two-thirds of the world's people with HIV live. The report noted that at least one in 10 people is HIV-positive in countries such as Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In addition, the social tension and economic strain related to the disease are felt by everyone in a country and not just those living with the disease.

"Reflecting on the lives of most people living in sub-Saharan Africa raises more alarm than hope," the report said, adding that HIV/AIDS "is directly responsible for restraining and reducing human and resource capacities across societies because HIV infections and AIDS[-related] deaths are common among workers of all qualifications and expertise, and in all industries." The report noted that along with the "high costs of caring for people living with HIV, those capacity constraints lead to withered health and education systems, declining food security, skilled labor shortages and an increasingly ramshakled infrastructure" (AFP/Google.com, 6/25).

Advertisement
IFRC said that ignoring HIV/AIDS as a disaster exposes people to unnecessary risks. According to the report, relief workers should do more to prevent unsafe blood donations, protect women and children from rape and minimize disruptions in HIV treatment. In addition, low-cost measures and better planning should be implemented to minimize the risk of spreading the disease in a disaster zone (AP/International Herald Tribune, 6/26). The report also called on governments and humanitarian agencies to pay more attention to HIV/AIDS in their response to armed conflicts, as well as the growing rate of transmission among vulnerable groups, including injection drug users, commercial sex workers and men who have sex with men (Evans, Reuters, 6/25).

Mukesh Kapila, IFRC's special representative for HIV/AIDS, said, "It's a question of adding HIV as a dimension in planning a response to disasters." He added, "Let's not forget that the HIV disaster takes place invisibly. A few [cases] here, a few hundred there, if you add up the numbers, it's a major disaster for many communities" (AP/International Herald Tribune, 6/26).

Online The report is available online.

Back to other news for June 2008


Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2008 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.



  
  • Email Email
  • Printable Single-Page Print-Friendly
  • Glossary Glossary

This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 
See Also
More HIV News
Advertisement:
Find out how a Walgreens specially trained pharmacist can help you

Tools
 

Advertisement