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Thursday, 29 March, 2001, 01:27 GMT 02:27 UK
Aids crippling parts of Africa
Ugandan Aids ward
Aids has killed millions in Africa
Aids rates are so high in parts of sub-Saharan Africa that some countries could collapse, according to a UK Government report.

It calls for more money to be donated by the developed countries to meet the growing pandemic.

So many people are now infected with HIV in parts of sub-Saharan Africa that experts say there is a real danger of the systems and infrastructure collapsing.

Health and education structures cannot cope and the economy and agriculture systems are being affected.

In sub-Saharan Africa there are expected to be 11.5 million fewer people in the labour force.

The report by the International Development Committee said more than 20 million people globally have died from Aids. The number living with HIV/Aids is 36.1 million.

Death rates

In 1999 2.8 million people died from Aids - 2.2 million of these from sub-Saharan Africa - more than three times the combined deaths from war, murder and violence.

The report said condoms remain the most effective way of blocking the disease, but they were shocked by the shortage of these in some states.

Bowen Wells, chairman of the International Development Committee, said unless the Aids epidemic was effectively tackled it would mean years of good health advancements being laid to waste.

He said: "As a result of the HIV/Aids epidemic, these gains are now, in certain countries, in real danger of being lost or even reversed.

"In the course of the committee's inquiry and during its visit to southern Africa, I was appalled at the impact of the HIV/Aids epidemic.

"In many countries infection rates were above 20% in these countries HIV/Aids will erase 17 years of life.

"As the report shows. HIV/Aids is having an impact beyond the lives of those infected; health and education systems, the economy, agriculture and security are all threatened."

The report also criticises the Department for International Development for its lack of an explicit HIV/Aids strategy, and calls for more work to be concentrated in Africa.

'Sobering'

Gavin Hart, a spokesman for the National Aids Trust, said sub-Saharan Africa was suffering a pandemic, which needed to be tackled now.

"Around half of all 15-year-olds in the worst affected parts of sub-Saharan Africa are destined to die of Aids.

"It is very sobering.

"We agree with the report and the committee that we have to dramatically increase our support for prevention campaigns."

But Mr Hart said that the only effective solution to the Aids problem was to find a vaccine.

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See also:

29 Mar 01 | Africa
Deal signed on Aids drugs
08 Mar 01 | Health
Aids vaccine shows promise
10 Mar 01 | Health
UK Aids campaign targets Africans
14 Mar 01 | Africa
Mbeki rules out AIDS emergency
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