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AFRICOM Staff Discusses African HIV/AIDS on U.N. Day
HIV/AIDS is a significant problem in Africa and will be a major challenge for United States Africa Command, AFRICOM staff members said during an awareness meeting that coincided with the annual World AIDS Day on December 1. <br /> <br />More than
HIV/AIDS is a significant problem in Africa and will be a major challenge for United States Africa Command, AFRICOM staff members said during an awareness meeting that coincided with the annual World AIDS Day on December 1.

More than 30 senior members of the Africa Command staff met to hear HIV/AIDS briefings from military health officials and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Newly revised data released in December by the World Health Organization show that an estimated 33.2 million people worldwide are living with HIV, with an estimated 2.1 million AIDS-related deaths in 2007.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most affected region in the global AIDS epidemic, according to the World Health Organization's annual "AIDS Epidemic Update." More than two-thirds of all HIV-positive people live in this region. An estimated 22.5 million people are living with the HIV virus in sub-Saharan Africa. There were 1.7 million newly infected people in 2007, and three-quarters of all AIDS deaths took place in the region. About 61 percent of those living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are women.

In 1999, the U.S. government joined the International Partnership Against HIV/AIDS in Africa (IPAA) to mitigate the HIV pandemic and help stop the spread of AIDS. In 2000, the U.S. Congress provided $100 million in support of HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment in sub-Saharan African and India. Of this funding, $10 million was provided to the Department of Defense to reduce the spread of HIV among military personnel in African countries, according to the U.S. Navy, which administers the Department of Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program, or DHAPP.

Currently, U.S. military programs are coordinated as part of the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR/Emergency Plan), which is a commitment of $15 billion over five years (2003 - 2008) from United States President George W. Bush to fight the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. PEPFAR supports treatment for 1.45 million people worldwide. The majority of PEPFAR focus countries are in sub-Saharan Africa.

HIV/AIDS is of military concern because military personnel and peacekeepers are especially vulnerable to HIV infection. Troops and peacekeepers are predominantly young, fit adults; they often travel well outside their home areas; and they often have status in the communities in which they live and work. Therefore, service members and peacekeepers often have higher infection rates than the surrounding civilian populations. However, the U.S. military recognized this trend in the mid-1980s and launched a series of health awareness programs, to include regular testing of military personnel. As a result of these efforts, U.S. military personnel today have among the world's lowest HIV/AIDS infection rates.

Worldwide, the U.S. military has worked with 69 countries to support HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care, in close coordination with partner-nation ministries of defense, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Department of Defense Directive 6485.02E, dated November 7, 2006, describes U.S. military policy to help prevent HIV in foreign militaries.

According to Directive 6485.02E, it is Department of Defense Policy to:

-- Support the U.S. Government in minimizing the pain and suffering caused by HIV/AIDS and the devastating impact on families, as well as the threat of global destabilizing due to the virus. This policy of minimizing pain and suffering is required by U.S. Congress in Public Law 108-25, "The United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003."

-- Focus on increasing capacity and support centered on training, prevention education, military personnel testing, workplace safety, laboratory-building, disease tracking, as well as establishing and equipping HIV testing centers in foreign militaries.

-- Protect foreign nation armed forces from HIV/AIDS.

-- Support the U.S. Military HIV Research Program's efforts to develop a vaccine to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The directive can be found at:
http://www.nhrc.navy.mil/programs/dhapp/background/6485.02e.pdf (63KB .pdf file)

More information is at:

The Department of Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program site:

http://www.nhrc.navy.mil/programs/dhapp/index.html

The President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief

http://www.pepfar.gov/

The 2007 United Nations WHO AIDS Epidemic Update can be found at:

http://data.unaids.org/pub/EPISlides/2007/2007_epiupdate_en.pdf (1.6MB .pdf file)
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