AIDS ravages Ethiopia

Ethiopia is facing an alarming growth in its HIV/AIDS epidemic, with an estimated 1000 people being infected each day.

    AIDS is sweeping the African continent

    Teklu Belay of the government's HIV/AIDS Prevention and

    Control Office said on Thursday the disease was spreading quickly in the

    impoverished country, already one of the worst hit in the world

    by the epidemic.

    About three million of Ethiopia's 67 million people are

    already infected with HIV, giving the country one of the largest

    caseloads in the world along with South Africa, India and

    Nigeria.

    Teklu did not give mortality rates or prevalence estimates

    for AIDS, but said the disease was beginning to play havoc with

    the economy of the country where most people live in dire

    poverty and 13 million people faced severe food shortages

    due to drought last year.

    Absenteeism

    "Studies indicate that due to HIV/AIDS infections, employees

    in the country's workplaces were absenting themselves between

    30 to 240 days annually"

    Teklu Belay,
    Ethiopia HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office

    "Studies indicate that due to HIV/AIDS infections, employees

    in the country's workplaces were absenting themselves between

    30 to 240 days annually," he said.

    Ethiopia's multiplying problems are expected to be discussed

    at a meeting of the Group of Eight developed nations in the

    United States in June, with officials saying concerted action is

    needed to break the cycle of poverty and illness gripping the

    country.

    The government has allowed sales of anti-retroviral drugs,

    the only medicines which can slow the progression of AIDS, but

    has not yet implemented plans to begin free distribution of the

    drugs to those who cannot afford them.

    Donors have given the Horn of Africa country more than $60

    million for programmes to tackle HIV/AIDS, which the United

    Nations children's agency UNICEF estimates has already orphaned

    an estimated one million children under the age of 14.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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