World Bank Approves $10M Grant To Support Afghanistan’s Efforts To Fight HIV/AIDS
The World Bank on Tuesday approved a $10 million grant to support the Afghan government's efforts to fight HIV/AIDS in the country, Pajhwok Afghan News reports. The Afghanistan HIV/AIDS Prevention Project is designed to increase the country's capacity to respond to the disease by scaling up prevention programs that target high-risk groups, including injection drug users, truckers, inmates, and commercial sex workers and their clients.
The project aims to improve knowledge about HIV prevention, strengthen surveillance of HIV cases and high-risk behavior, map and estimate the size of groups engaged in high-risk behavior and reduce HIV/AIDS-related stigma. Mariam Claeson, World Bank HIV/AIDS coordinator for South Asia, said that although HIV prevalence in the country is low, the virus "has a high potential for rapid spread due to the current increase in injecting drug use." Claeson added that HIV/AIDS prevention programs in Afghanistan have been "fragmented on a small scale" and that the new project "will be critical" in meeting the unmet needs of existing programs.
A 2006 study found that 3% of IDUs in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, were HIV-positive. The study also found that the number of officially recorded HIV cases in the country is 71, although UNAIDS and the World Health Organization estimate the number of HIV cases in Afghanistan to be between 1,000 and 2,000, Pajhwok Afghan News reports. According to the World Bank, the HIV epidemic in Afghanistan is concentrated among IDUs and their partners (Pajhwok Afghan News, 8/1).