________________________________________________________________________ AIDS hurting development, World Bank says ____________________________________________________________________________ Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net Copyright ) 1997 The Associated Press WASHINGTON (November 27, 1997 07:23 a.m. EST http://www.nando.net) -- AIDS is reversing the progress of many developing countries, the World Bank says in a report that urges policy-makers to try to prevent further spread of the disease by focusing on groups with high-risk behaviors. Of the more than 30 million people infected with the AIDS virus worldwide, 90 percent live in developing nations, according to figures released Wednesday by the United Nations. The World Bank report stresses that governments should take early action in developing countries where full-blown epidemics have not yet occurred but where the potential looms. "AIDS is reversing decades of progress of improving the quality of life in developing countries," said Martha Ainsworth, a senior economist at the World Bank and an author of the study. "Many of these hard-won gains are being lost." According to the study, AIDS has trimmed years off life expectancy in many developing countries, including Brazil, Thailand and Zimbabwe, and has implications for the economic well-being of these nations as well. Because developing countries must allocate their resources among a host of pressing problems, the report recommends focusing on high-risk groups -- such as prostitutes, intravenous drug users, male homosexuals and bisexuals with many partners. "These programs are sometimes politically controversial but without them the epidemic cannot be stopped," Ainsworth said. The study says more than half the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have "concentrated" epidemics, meaning that the virus has risen above 5 percent among high-risk groups. This precedes a "generalized" stage where HIV explodes beyond high-risk groups, as it has in sub-Saharan Africa. "The lessons from sub-Saharan Africa is that you need to stop it before it reaches the general population," Ainsworth said. Recent AIDS programs in Argentina and Brazil have attempted to strike an early campaign through education, HIV counseling and condom distribution. Development leaders say that for countries with scarce resources, more than information is needed to thwart the spread of AIDS. "I don't believe just information is enough for prevention," said Jose Izazola-Licea, director for AIDS Prevention and Control in Latin America and the Caribbean. "We are talking about complex behaviors." The report explores strategies including: -- Lowering the costs of condom use and safe needle use. -- Altering social norms to encourage safe sexual behavior. -- Improving the status of women. Alain Colliou, who works in the World Bank's AIDS project in Argentina, said an effective strategy must bring together religious leaders, political parties, business people and others. "It's not sufficient to have just the public sector involved," Colliou said. "The government has to take leadership, but a coalition of key stake-holders is needed."
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Apr 13 2001 - 12:54:24 PDT