World Disasters Report 2008 - Focus on HIV and AIDS

“ The link between vulnerability to HIV and humanitarian disaster has long been recognized; yet we have been slow as a global community in proactively involving organizations in the humanitarian world in the fight against HIV and AIDS. The focus of this World Disasters Report on HIV and AIDS is extremely timely."

–Noerine Kaleeba, Ph.D., Founder and Patron, TASO Uganda; Chair, ActionAid International Board of Trustees

The AIDS epidemic is a disaster on many levels. In the most affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where prevalence rates reach 20 per cent, development gains are reversed and life expectancy may be halved. For specific groups of marginalized people – injecting drug users, sex workers and men who have sex with men – across the world, HIV rates are on the increase. Yet they often face stigma, criminalization and little, if any, access to HIV prevention and treatment services. As this report explains, HIV is a challenge to the humanitarian world whose task is to improve the lives of vulnerable people and to support them in strengthening their capacities and resilience. Disasters, man-made and ‘natural’, exacerbate other drivers of the epidemic and can also increase people’s vulnerability to infection.

The report by chapters

The challenge of HIV and AIDS
Although global prevalence rates have apparently levelled off since 2001 (UNAIDS 2007) in certain regions of the world, they are growing. The HIV and AIDS epidemic represents a huge and complex challenge to the humanitarian community whether in terms of poverty reduction, providing basic healthcare and welfare or dealing with the aftermath of man-made and natural disasters. Read chapter 1

The disaster of HIV
Around 25 million people have died from AIDS since 1981 and about 33 million are living with HIV today. For those most affected by HIV, whether the countries of sub-Saharan Africa or marginalised groups worldwide, the epidemic is undoubtedly a disaster. Read chapter 2

The humanitarian interface: using the HIV lens
Disaster relief and development organisations are increasingly accepting the need to integrate HIV and AIDS into all aspects of their humanitarian work. Whether distributing jerry cans or installing water pumps, examining what impact programmes will have on those affected by the epidemic and what impact the epidemic will have on programmes is vital. Read chapter 3

HIV and population mobility: reality and myths
Vast numbers of people today are on the move between and within countries but the link between migration and HIV is complex. While HIV is often driven by poverty, it is also associated with inequality and economic transition. Economic growth and trade between neighbouring countries also increase labour migration, particularly of transport, mining, construction and other workers, and stimulate the sex industry along transport routes. Read chapter 4

Refugees and the impact of war on HIV
Among countries with high rates of HIV, about half have been affected by major conflict between 2002 and 2005, with mass rape, forced displacement, breakdown in basic health care, disruption of social programmes and educational systems all increasing the risk of infection. Read chapter 5

Natural disasters: the complex links with HIV
When natural disasters strike, certain problems affect HIV-positive people more than others. Disruption of medical supplies can cause resistance to treatment for those on anti-retroviral drugs. Malnutrition is likely to speed up progression of HIV. Read chapter 6

HIV and AIDS funding: where does the money go?
Spending on the response to HIV and AIDS in low- and middle income countries has significantly increased but is still well short of what is needed to provide universal access to prevention, treatment and support. Read chapter 7

World Disasters Report 2008
You can download the full version of the report here.

Opinion piece - Press release

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Hard copies

A few copies of the 2008 WDR are still available. Please contact if you require a copy.