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Tunis, 1 December 2010 – The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has reiterated its commitment to help its Regional Member Countries fight HIV/ASIDS, noting that the pandemic gravely undermines the continent’s development efforts.
In a statement in commemoration of the day, the AfDB said it was aware of the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS on the continent's development, and developed an HIV/AIDS strategy to better support the RMCs.
The Bank is also supporting different programmes piloted by United Nations agencies, such as WHO, UNICEF, UNAIDS, UNESCO, IFAD and other bilateral and multilateral partners, the statement said.
“To help check the spread of the virus, the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has been working with its regional member countries on HIV-related projects,” it said.
According to the statement, the AfDB has provided some US$ 223.245 million funding to HIV-related projects on the continent from 1997 to 2007.
The Bank reiterated its commitment to continue providing support to African countries to develop a broad range of prevention programs and integrate HIV funding into countries’ health systems. It will continue incorporating HIV/AIDS dimension into its policy papers and into its projects and programmes.
The World AIDS Day (WAD) theme for 2010 is Universal Access and Human Rights. WAD is important for reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done.
According to UNAIDS estimates, 33.3 million people are currently living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. During 2009, some 2.6 million people became newly infected with the virus and an estimated 1.8 million people died from AIDS.
Positive responses have been given to the epidemic since 1988, when the WAD was established. Many people around the globe are using anti-retroviral drugs and awareness campaigns are changing lives.
However Africa still faces great challenges. Many Africans are still unable to procure the medication they need in order to postpone death. The stigma surrounding the virus is posing new challenges. Many people do not have the courage to find out their HIV status and this is resulting in many deaths.
To help check the spread of the virus, the AfDB Group has been working with its regional member countries on HIV-related issues. The disease remains an enormous economic, social and human challenge to Sub-Saharan Africa. The impact of the epidemic on households, human capital, the private sector, and the public sector undermines efforts at alleviating poverty and attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa.
African countries with high HIV prevalence rates have all experienced significant decreases in life expectancy.
The countries are faced with increased mortality caused by AIDS among productive age groups - women aged 20-29 years and men aged 25-34 years. As the epidemic creates more orphans, human capital accumulation efforts by African countries will be hurt and this will impact negatively on their economies.