Regional anti-AIDS workshop underway in Cotonou

Cotonou- Benin (PANA) -- At least 60 delegates are attending a sub-regional workshop in Cotonou, whose aim is to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS within the Abidjan- Lagos corridor.
Present at the meeting, which opened in Benin's economic capital Monday, are community leaders and co-ordinators, social workers, doctors and others from five West African states.
Organised by the World Bank, UNAIDS and USAID, the workshop is expected to reach a consensus on measures to curb HIV transmission within that corridor and support actions by the countries concerned.
The objective of four-day workshop attended by Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Niger, Nigeria and Togo, is to formulate a regional strategy covering between three and five years.
According to Dr Pierre M'Pele, who heads the West and Central African UNAIDS inter-country team, poverty, armed conflicts and massive population movement were to blame for the rapid spread of the pandemic in Africa.
Benin's health minister Kandissounou Celine, noted that prevalence rates of between 4 and 12 percent exist within the five coastal states.
At least 200 million people are involved in migration within the five countries, where prostitution is also thriving.
HIV prevalence rates among these sex workers is estimated at 55 percent in Benin, where most of them come from Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Niger and Cote d'Ivoire.
According to the minister, more than 25 million people in sub-Sahara Africa were living with HIV/AIDS by the end of 2000.
An estimated 3.
8 million new infections occurred that year when the incurable disease caused 2.
4 million deaths.
Cote d'Ivoire's HIV prevalence is estimated at between 10 and 13 percent, while about 2 million people are living with HIV in Nigeria, the most populous country in the sub-region.
The pandemic is also gaining ground in rural Benin and Ghana due to low awareness about how to prevent the lethal disease.

30 july 2001 21:09:00

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