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Preventing HIV/AIDS in the Middle East and North Africa : a window of opportunity to act, Volume 1
Country:Middle East and North Africa; Date Stored:2012/05/28
Document Date:2012/01/01Document Type:Publication
SubTopics:Gender and Health; Disease Control & Prevention; Population Policies; HIV AIDS; DisabilityLanguage:English
Major Sector:Health and other social servicesRel. Proj ID:5M-Regional Hiv/Aids Strategy (Dissemination & Ta) -- -- P097758;
Region:Middle East and North AfricaReport Number:69092
Sub Sectors:Health; Other social servicesVolume No:1

Summary: Over the past two decades, HIV/ Acquired Immune-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) have emerged as one of the worst infectious diseases in modern history. The epidemic spread with devastating effects in Africa and is now threatening to spread with equal force in the Russian Federation, India, China, and many other transition economies around the world, including the countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. HIV/AIDS infection has a number of characteristics that make it a particularly devastating disease for the human population. HIV/AIDS typically strikes people of working age, as well as those of child-bearing and child-rearing age. Consequently, the spread of disease leads to the loss of skilled and unskilled workers, the main breadwinners, and caretakers of the family. The high morbidity and mortality rates among these groups can seriously undermine the social and economic foundation of a nation. The HIV/AIDS epidemic is also difficult to contain and control because the infection often remains invisible in a population for a long period. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection typically stays hidden over an incubation period of five to eight years before the disease manifests itself in the form of AIDS. Another reason for the difficulty in detecting this disease is that in the early stages of the epidemic, the HIV infection tends to be concentrated in a small number of high-risk groups who frequently face social stigma and are therefore difficult to identify and to provide with prevention, care, and treatment services. Low prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the MENA region does not equate to low risk, and action now can prevent a probable epidemic. The region is lagging in its defense against this devastating epidemic, but it may also have the advantage of time. Timing is crucial and the window of opportunity that exists now must not be wasted if the mistakes of other regions with more advanced stages of the epidemic are to be avoided in MENA.

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