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South Africa

Volume 410: debated on Monday 18 August 2003

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the impact of HIV/AIDS on the humanitarian situation in South Africa. [129056]

All agencies active in responding to the humanitarian crisis in Southern Africa recognise that the high HIV/AIDS infection rates there are both affecting the crisis and being affected by it. In countries such as Zimbabwe, where one in four adults is HIV- positive, current rates of malnutrition and mortality are closely related to the underlying AIDS pandemic. An estimated 2,500 deaths per week in Zimbabwe are due to AIDS.We are still learning how HIV/AIDS affects the crisis, including recovery. Evidence from Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe shows that households affected by chronic illness plant fewer crops and can afford fewer inputs like fertiliser. In some cases, households are shifting production to less labour intensive but also less nutritious crops. In addition, governments' capacity to respond to the crisis is undermined by the loss of public sector workers due to AIDS and other factors.DFID is taking steps to integrate HIV/AIDS in its humanitarian programmes. Regionally, DFID is working to ensure that HIV prevention is integrated with food distribution, and that AIDS affected households receive food and care. We are also working closely with Governments, UN and non-governmental agencies to ensure that there is better understanding of the impact of HIV/AIDS on hunger and vulnerability. We are exploring how best to support longer-term safety nets for households affected by chronic illness. We also have a substantial programme of support for HIV/ AIDS prevention and care, working with national AIDS councils and others to ensure appropriate multi-sectoral responses to the epidemic.