Global Health:

The U.S. and U.N. Response to the AIDS Crisis in Africa

T-NSIAD-00-99: Published: Feb 24, 2000. Publicly Released: Feb 24, 2000.

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Benjamin F. Nelson
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Office of Public Affairs
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed its recent reports concerning the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, focusing on: (1) the social and economic implications of AIDS in Africa; and (2) efforts to combat the disease by the United States and the United Nations.

GAO noted that: (1) despite some breakthroughs in treatment and techniques for preventing AIDS, the epidemic continues to grow; (2) the broader economic and social consequences are becoming clear--and they are not good; (3) over the last decade, the life expectancy in nine African countries declined by over 17 years due to AIDS; (4) by 2010, the United Nations' Joint Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that 42 million children in Africa will lose one or both parents to AIDS and that gross domestic product in many countries will decline by as much as 20 percent; (5) the countries in sub-Saharan Africa are among the poorest in the world and have a limited capacity to address the epidemic; (6) the United States and the United Nations have made some important contributions to the fight against AIDS; (7) the Agency for International Development (AID) helped to identify interventions proven to prevent the spread of AIDS and UNAIDS has supported research that played an important role as an advocate for increased spending for AIDS programs by national governments, private companies, and donors; and (8) however, the World Bank estimates that $1 billion a year is needed by the world community to address the epidemic in Africa--more than three times the current level of spending.

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