African HIV/AIDS Projects Overlook Rural Areas, Farming Communities, Speakers at U.N. Meeting Say
Rural African communities are being "torn apart" by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, making farmers and other rural residents the "forgotten victims" of the disease, as prevention and support work is focused primarily in the continent's cities, according to health experts and political leaders speaking Tuesday at a meeting of the U.N. Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, AFP/News24.com reports. "Earlier in the pandemic, HIV/AIDS was viewed merely as an urban phenomenon, and most of the response is still focused there," K.Y. Amoako, executive secretary of the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, said, adding, "Now, however, we can see that the epidemic has spread to our rural areas, where the vast majority of Africans live." Amoako said, "Households are losing key productive members in their prime, and communities are losing the main producers of food. Crucial knowledge is lost and the fabric of rural communities is being torn apart." CHGA's members include Joy Phumaphi, assistant director general of the World Health Organization; Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS; and Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The conference in Addis Ababa was CHGA's third session of open discussions and debates, which will be used to inform the commission's final report on the long-term impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa. The report is due to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan by June 2005. Approximately 25 million of the 38 million HIV-positive people in the world live in Africa, according to UNAIDS estimates (AFP/News24.com, 10/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.