HIV/AIDS in Mozambique Threatens to Undermine Country's Long-Term Economic Growth, IMF Official Says

HIV/AIDS in Mozambique poses a growing threat to the country's long-term economic development, and the government must increase efforts to fight the epidemic, International Monetary Fund resident representative Felix Fischer said on Thursday, Reuters UK reports. According to UNAIDS, the percentage of adults living with HIV/AIDS in Mozambique doubled to 16.2% from 1998 through 2004. In addition, the Mozambique Ministry of Health estimates that there are nearly 1.6 million HIV-positive people, mostly ages 14 to 29, living in the country and that about 500 people acquire the virus daily, Reuters UK reports. "HIV/AIDS is hindering development ... it's a major risk for a sustainable economy because capacities in this country are very limited," Fischer said, adding, "Obviously, if the mortality rate due to AIDS increases, you lose a lot of capable people who have just been trained, so the containment of AIDS is absolutely crucial." Mozambican President Armando Guebuza this week in his state of the nation speech said HIV/AIDS has become "a major obstacle to development" in the country, adding, "What makes the scenario more dramatic is that many of the more than 1.5 million Mozambicans infected do not know they are carrying the HIV virus, they only seek assistance in the last stages of their lives." The IMF and the Mozambican government in March will meet to examine the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility and will discuss HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment strategies, Fischer said (Mangwiro, Reuters UK, 12/21).

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