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.
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).
The report is available online.
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.