The number of AIDS-related deaths in Ethiopia could reach 1.8 million by 2008 unless the country takes steps to reduce the current prevalence rate and provide treatment for those living with the disease, according to a report released on Wednesday, AFP/Yahoo! News
reports. The 38-page report, titled "Ethiopia HIV/AIDS Emergency Plan," was conducted under the direction of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief
by health officials from the United Nations, the United States, and the Ethiopian AIDS secretariat and health ministry. It was released in advance of next month's meeting of the 15 PEPFAR focus countries covered under the five-year, $15 billion plan.
The report found that about one-third of all adult deaths in Ethiopia are from AIDS-related causes and that the disease would "devastate" the economy if it continued to spread "unchecked," according to AFP/Yahoo! News. "The loss of Ethiopian citizens in the most productive years of their lives and related HIV/AIDS morbidity has a detrimental impact on economic growth," the report says. Ethiopia is "particularly vulnerable" to the disease because of the country's high birth and malnourishment rates, poor access to health care services, low literacy rate and "crushing" poverty, according to the report, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. The demobilization of Ethiopia's military following the end of the 1998-2002 conflict with Eritrea also has facilitated the spread of HIV, with approximately 75,000 soldiers returning to their homes, the report says. In addition, the number of AIDS-related deaths among teachers in the country increased 5% between 1998 and 2000, and about one-third of teachers over the same period were absent from work for at least one week because of AIDS-related illness or death in the family, according to the report. Ethiopia's government estimates that about 1.5 million HIV-positive people live in the country. However, the World Health Organization estimates the number to be closer to 2.8 million (AFP/Yahoo! News, 4/13).
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