Famine in Southern Africa May Exacerbate AIDS Epidemic, United Nations Says
A growing food shortage in southern Africa could exacerbate the region's HIV/AIDS epidemic, U.N. officials said Saturday at a conference held to discuss the food shortage, Agence France-Presse reports. The United Nations estimates that the region will need at least 3.5 million tons of grain over the next 12 months to prevent widespread famine, especially in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland. Without the food, "[o]ne can expect the death toll for cases of HIV/AIDS will rise," Victor Angelo, U.N. resident coordinator for Zimbabwe, said, explaining that people with the disease are more likely to become sick if their protein intake decreases. Public health observers have already seen a rise in cases of malaria and cholera in the region due to HIV/AIDS and lack of food. In Malawi, up to 980 people died and 30,000 were infected with cholera earlier this year. "When the cholera came with the rain, we found the HIV/AIDS factor was behind the wasting," Zahra Nuru, the U.N. resident coordinator for Malawi, said. Health officials warn that children may be worst-affected by the food shortage because they could experience developmental problems if they do not have proper nutritional intake now. "All indicators show us we are entering into a deep crisis, and if nothing is done, we will see famine and death in some of these countries," Nuru said (Shea, Agence France-Presse, 5/18).
Zimbabwe Launches Youth TB Awareness Program
Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, executive mayor of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city, on Saturday launched the "first-ever" Rehabilitation and Prevention of Tuberculosis Among Teens program, Xinhua News Agency reports. The program, which aims to raise TB awareness in schools through "Interact clubs," is necessary because of widespread co-infection among people with HIV/AIDS, Ndabeni-Ncube said. "HIV comes thorough sex and you should know the consequences of having unprotected sex. The combination of AIDS and TB, as a serious killer, makes a double barrel gun that can shoot at anyone. We need to address these diseases," he said, adding, "The fight against AIDS needs to start with the youths because they are our future." Junior Mayor Winston Nolan added that the area youth "felt that there is a gap in the whole awareness program on TB and AIDS." He added that people between the ages of 14 and 19 are part of the "HIV-free age group" and officials "want to make sure [they] maintain that window of hope by educating them about the diseases" (Xinhua News Agency, 5/18).