“The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) met on Friday 29 June with potential troop- and police-contributing countries for the African Union-United Nations hybrid operation for Darfur.
A new UNHCR study of seven African countries challenges previous assumptions that conflict, forced displacement and wide-scale rape have increased the prevalence of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa and that refugees fleeing conflict spread the infection in host communities. A UNHCR team led by Dr. Paul Spiegel of UNHCR s Public Health and HIV Section, studied population data in the Democratic Republic of Congo, southern Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Burundi.
The study, published last week in the British medical journal The Lancet, says a survey of data on HIV prevalence in 12 refugee camps showed that nine actually had a lower prevalence of infection than surrounding host communities, while two had similar rates and only one a higher prevalence.
Dr. Spiegel says that while conflict in the seven sub-Saharan African countries does not appear to increase HIV infection to the same degree as in surrounding countries not in conflict, this does not mean that conflict in all countries would mean lower HIV infection than non-conflict countries. Each case would need to be examined. Nor should the findings be interpreted to mean we shouldn’t worry about HIV or rape in conflict. Individuals are still vulnerable to HIV during conflict and in any incident of rape.”
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