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AIDS Devastating Rural Life In Africa
By David Brough
2-21-2

ROME (Reuters) - AIDS is ravaging an entire generation of farm workers as it sweeps through rural Africa, the president of a United Nations development agency said.
 
"AIDS is devastating rural life in many parts of Africa. You have a disappearing generation," Lennard Bage, head of the Rome-based UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), told Reuters late on Wednesday.
 
The United Nations has said that, in Africa's 25 worst affected countries, 7 million agricultural workers have died from AIDS since 1985 and 16 million more could die by 2020.
 
"AIDS is taking a tremendous toll. By now most people with AIDS are living in the rural areas," he added, speaking on the sidelines of his agency's annual meeting.
 
He said AIDS was depriving the countryside of the labour force to provide food for the hungry, severely hindering the continent's efforts to achieve a UN goal to halve hunger and poverty by 2015.
 
"It means a lack of manpower," he said, adding the disease had left more than 12 million AIDS orphans in Africa.
 
According to the World Bank, the average annual loss in gross domestic product per capita due to HIV/AIDS is around one percentage point in Africa.
 
"It is a tremendous obstacle," he said. "This has taken back standards of living and average life expectancy. It is straight against the development that we would like to see."
 
Africa, with about 10% of the world's population, accounts for 9 out of every 10 new cases of HIV infection.
 
Some 83% of all AIDS-related deaths have occurred in Africa, the United Nations reports. Sub-Saharan Africa is hardest hit, with 28.1 million people infected.
 
At the IFAD meeting, Swaziland's Farm Minister Roy Fanourakis said some hospitals were telling patients they had AIDS-related diseases such as tuberculosis without informing them it was because they had AIDS.
 
So when they went back home they were treated for their specific illness but carried on risky sexual practices, spreading the AIDS virus further.
 
But Bage said successful prevention campaigns, such as that seen in Uganda, offered some hope for the future.
 
 
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