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Aids tops African agenda
South African babies
Aids has left a generation of orphans
Organizers of an economic forum of southern African nations say that, for the first time, Aids will top the agenda of this year's gathering later this month in the Mozambican capital, Maputo.

The co-chairman of the Southern African International Dialogue (SAID), Eneas Comiche, said instead of focusing on trade and economic matters, Aids and its effects on children would be given priority.

According to the United Nations, more than 70% of the world's Aids sufferers live in sub-Sahara Africa.

It says more than 12 million African children are Aids orphans.

Wealth threat

According to evidence presented at the International Aids Conference in Durban last month, Aids could slash the wealth of some African countries by as much as 20%.

Researchers warn of a vicious cycle in which HIV/Aids drives many families into deepening poverty, and at the same time poverty speeds the spread of HIV.

Speaking at the same conference, former South African President Nelson Mandela described the Aids epidemic as "one of the greatest threats humankind has faced."

"Let us not equivocate: A tragedy of unprecedented proportions is unfolding in Africa," Mr Mandela said.

Only a tiny fraction of African sufferers have access to expensive drugs that can suppress the virus.


In DepthIN DEPTH
Zambia Aids orphansOrphaned continent
Can Africa ever beat Aids?
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14 Jul 00 | Media reports
11 Jul 00 | Africa
11 Jul 00 | UK Politics
12 Jul 00 | Health
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