Human Ecology experts lead symposium on AIDS crisis in Africa.
Subject: AIDS (Disease) (Conferences, meetings and seminars)
AIDS (Disease) (Statistics)
AIDS (Disease) (Social aspects)
Author: Hall, Sheri
Pub Date: 11/01/2008
Publication: Name: Human Ecology Publisher: Cornell University, Human Ecology Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Science and technology; Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Cornell University, Human Ecology ISSN: 1530-7069
Issue: Date: Nov, 2008 Source Volume: 36 Source Issue: 2
Topic: Event Code: 680 Labor Distribution by Employer; 290 Public affairs
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Name: Africa Geographic Code: 1USA United States; 60AFR Africa
Accession Number: 231021646
Full Text: Dozens of scholars, policymakers, and stakeholders from across the globe gathered at the United Nations in New York City on September 9 for an academic symposium on the AIDS crisis in Africa coordinated by the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell.

The event was part of a series of five symposia focused on social, economic, and health problems in Africa. The series was designed to identify gaps in knowledge and policy, and guide future research. These symposia help to prepare and educate UN staff, delegates, and nonprofit organizations working to assist African countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals, a set of public health and economic goals developed by the United Nations to improve worldwide conditions by 2015.

The series is sponsored by the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell, the United Nations University (UNU), the Turkish Mission to the United Nations, and UNAIDS.

"Cornell's leadership in this series highlights the global focus and impact of our research," said Patrick Stover, professor and director of both Cornell's UNU Food and Nutrition Programme and the Division of Nutritional Sciences. "It offers us new opportunities to translate premier scholarship to application in the developing world for the benefit of all humanity"

David Sahn, International Professor of Economics in Nutritional Sciences and the Department of Economics, led off the September symposium with an overview of the AIDS problem and objectives of the meeting, and then led the first panel, which addressed the effect of HIV and anti-retroviral therapy on families, children, and youth.

Globally, 33 million people suffer from HIV/AIDS, and more than two-thirds of the affected live in sub-Saharan Africa. This estimate includes some 1.7 million who were newly infected last year.

The infection rate in Africa varies widely in different regions, Sahn explained. In eight African countries alone, the number of HIV/AIDS cases exceeded 15 percent of their populations in 2005.

"While there is widespread agreement that HIV is having devastating consequences, finding the most cost-effective measures to prevent the disease and mitigate its consequences is still the source of considerable debate," he said. "The growing availability of anti-retroviral therapies is having dramatic effects in terms of extending life of those who have AIDS, but new worries are emerging with the roll-out of these pharmaceuticals."

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Among the potential problems is the cost of the treatments, which could detract from money spent on other basic health care services. The prospect exists that the availability of treatments will increase the likelihood that some people will engage in risky sexual behavior, possibly increasing the spread of the disease.

The symposium went on to address the complex links between HIV/AIDS and Africa's poverty, economic growth and productivity, as well as the way the disease affects reproductive and sexual health and behavior.

The event provided the experts the opportunity to talk frankly about the challenges the HIV/AIDS epidemic poses on Africa's development needs and the disease's specific impacts on household incomes, childhood health, education, and nutritional well-being.

Expert speakers from Cornell, Africa, and other institutions around the globe discussed ways of intensifying the efforts of local governments and communities to prevent the spread of the disease. These include improving access to anti-retroviral therapies and methodological approaches to conducting research.

The symposium was broadcast by videoconference with the African cities of Addis Ababa and Accra. The webcast can be viewed at www.ony.unu.edu/webcast.
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