Years of Civil War Leave Angola Primed for HIV/AIDS Epidemic
Angola's 27-year civil war has left the country in "smoldering ruin," and the "advent of peace may fan the spread" of HIV in the country, Reuters/Boston Globe reports. Some health experts believe that the war may have kept HIV/AIDS contained to small regions of the country because civilian movement was prohibited in much of the nation. However, now that the fighting has subsided, people in the country are able to travel, and "[t]he fear is that they are taking HIV with them," according to Reuters/Globe. In 1999, 5.5% of Angola's population was estimated to be HIV-positive; if the prevalence rate is still accurate, Angola would rank 25th in HIV prevalence worldwide. However, prevalence rates in surrounding countries are between 20% and 30%. According to Reuters/Globe, almost 33% of Angolans have "never heard" of HIV, almost 70% of the population is under age 24 and the country has the world's highest fertility rate, providing a "combustible mix to ignite a nightmarish" HIV/AIDS epidemic. However, UNICEF has said that the next year could offer a "window of opportunity" to help curb the spread of the disease, according to Reuters/Globe. The organization is currently running HIV/AIDS awareness programs at youth centers throughout the country. Melanie Luick, head of UNICEF's Angola AIDS program, said, "These centers are not just about having HIV or not. They're about giving kids the ability to enter into the formal economy as well as to get a better education ... and through that they have less of a chance of contracting HIV" (Eisenstein, Reuters/Boston Globe, 11/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.