HIV and AIDS, threats to rural development
FAO, with the UN mandate for improving nutrition and food security, sustainable agriculture and rural development,
has a unique opportunity to contribute to preventing and tackling the impacts of HIV and AIDS.
The pandemic is shifting from cities to rural areas. In its earlier stages,
the HIV epidemic was predominantly an urban problem, affecting more men than women, and those with relatively higher incomes.
Now the epidemic has rapidly moved into the rural areas, hitting those who are least equipped to deal with its consequences.
Today, 95% of people living with - and dying of - HIV and AIDS are in developing countries. The overwhelming majority are the
rural poor, and among them women figure disproportionately.
A threat to sustainable agriculture and rural development. The epidemic
is undoing decades of economic and social development and causing rural disintegration. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV
is depleting the region of its food producers and farmers, decimating the agricultural labour force for generations to come.
HIV and AIDS: not just a health issue. In spite of the fact that up to 80%
of the people in the most affected countries depend on agriculture for their subsistence, most of the response to the
epidemic has come from the health sector. The agricultural sector cannot continue with "business as usual" in communities
where vast numbers of adults are dead, leaving only the elderly and children. It has to revise the content and delivery
of its services, as well as the process of transferring agricultural knowledge.
A new focus on agricultural responses needed. Effective solutions rely
on the agricultural sector and its capacity to reduce people's vulnerability to acquire the disease. The agricultural
sector is in a strong position to assist in both the prevention and mitigation of the consequences of HIV. Moreover,
it has a responsibility to those people who depend on agriculture for their survival.
FAO and HIV. FAO recognizes the urgent need for action
to be able to respond effectively to the impacts of HIV on food security and rural livelihoods and is
currently developing a comprehensive HIV strategy for the agriculture sector.
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