Swaziland declares humanitarian disaster

BY admin

February 24 2004 12:00 AM ET

The combination of an ongoing drought and an HIV prevalence rate of nearly 40% led Swaziland prime minister Themba Dlamini to declare a humanitarian disaster in the southern African nation last week. "AIDS, drought, and land degradation--all these have reinforced negative effects that have created a web of extreme vulnerability reinforced by the collapse of family structures," Dlamini said, appealing to the international community for increased aid. The nation's HIV prevalence rate climbed from 34.2% in January 2002 to 38.6% just one year later, according to Swazi officials. The country has the second-highest HIV prevalence rate in the world, behind only Botswana, where more than 40% of the nation's residents are infected with the virus. Swaziland's epidemic is being fueled by the practice of polygamy and reluctance by Swazi men to use condoms, international health officials say.

Tags: Health

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