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Three UN agencies join efforts in fight against HIV/AIDS

Three UN agencies join efforts in fight against HIV/AIDS

Three United Nations agencies have teamed with the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in an effort to examine ways to mitigate the disease's affect on food security, rural livelihoods and rural poverty.

The Rome-based UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and World Food Programme (WFP) will contribute experts to a so-called technical consultation from 5 to 7 December at FAO headquarters as a follow-up to World AIDS Day, which was observed last Saturday.

In a statement released today by FAO, the agency said its cooperation with UNAIDS and other UN specialized agencies, including the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), would help achieve a broad-based response to HIV/AIDS on issues relating to food security and rural livelihoods.

The Rome meeting will also aim to identify innovative, gender sensitive and participatory approaches to fight HIV/AIDS in rural areas. It will devise ways of incorporating an HIV/AIDS dimension into ongoing initiatives and recommend concrete interventions to reduce the vulnerability of poor farmers, pregnant women and AIDS orphans.

Government and NGO representatives at the meeting will present their countries' experiences in mitigating of the impact of HIV/AIDS on the agricultural sector.

Marcela Villarreal, FAO's focal point for HIV/AIDS, said that "inter-agency cooperation is needed in order to fight the pandemic from many angles," pointing out that "HIV/AIDS is no longer just a health issue, because it is having a devastating effect on food security in many parts of the world and has undermined the hard-earned agricultural and rural development achievements of the last 40 years."

Of the 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS, an overwhelming 95 per cent live in developing countries, FAO said. Africa accounts for only one-tenth of the world's population but has 9 out of 10 new cases of HIV infection. Eighty-three per cent of all AIDS deaths are in Africa.