Friday, April 16, 2010

HIV/AIDS and the African military

Most studies conclude that the adult prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in Africa is higher among African military personnel than it is among the general population. Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete recently commented, for example, that the infection rate within the military could be five times that of the civilian population. This has important implications for security in African countries and African peacekeeping efforts. The Institute for Security Studies in South Africa hosted a conference on this topic in March 2009 in Jinja, Uganda. There were more than 100 participants from various African countries and organizations. The conference report titled "HIV and AIDS and the African Military: Towards a Common and Comprehensive Approach" (PDF) has just been published. The overall objective of the conference was to develop a common and comprehensive African approach in addressing the HIV and AIDS pandemic in the uniformed services. The Conference addressed the following issues:
  • Aspects of HIV and recruitment in a human rights culture.
  • Challenges of what to do with soldiers who become HIV positive during service.
  • New skills regarding nutrition and dieting required for supporting in-service victims.
  • Control of scheduled drugs as part of the quartermaster’s responsibility.
  • Home-based care and welfare policies related to early termination of employment on medical grounds.
  • Budgetary and cost implications given the fact that armed forces are liable for the cost of anything up to 20 percent and more of non-effective soldiers.
  • Policy-related challenges which emerge with regard to peacekeeping deployments.

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