World Bank supports efforts to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS

Source: The World Bank Group
Press Release No:2008/037/SAR

WASHINGTON, July 31, 2007 - The World Bank today approved a US$10 million grant to support the Government of Afghanistan's efforts to maintain a low prevalence rate of HIV AIDS for both the general population and groups at high risk.

The HIV epidemic is at an early stage in Afghanistan, concentrated among high risk groups, mainly Injecting Drugs Users (IDUs) and their partners. A 2006 study found that 3 percent of the IDUs in the city of Kabul were HIV positive. To date, the officially reported number of HIV cases is 71, most of them men, but UNAIDS and WHO estimate a prevalence of between 1,000 to 2,000 HIV positive cases.

The Afghanistan HIV/AIDS Prevention Project is designed to strengthen national capacity to respond to the epidemic by scaling up prevention programs targeting people engaged in high risk behaviors, including injecting drug use and unsafe sex. These vulnerable groups at high risk include IDUs, sex workers and their clients, truckers, and prisoners.

The project also aims to improve the knowledge of HIV prevention among the general population, strengthen surveillance of HIV prevalence and high risk behaviors, map and estimate the sizes of groups engaged in high risk behavior, and use communications and advocacy to reduce stigma related to HIV and AIDS.

"Although the HIV prevalence is low, it has a high potential for rapid spread due to the current increase in injecting drug use," said Mariam Claeson, World Bank's HIV/AIDS Coordinator for South Asia Region. "To date, HIV and AIDS prevention programs have been fragmented on a small scale. There are a few local and international NGOs and development partners that provide prevention services to high-risk and vulnerable populations. This project will be critical in helping fill this gap."

The Ministry of Public Health has developed the Afghanistan National HIV and AIDS Strategic Framework 2006-2010. This Framework aims to maintain a low prevalence of HIV positive cases, and reduce mortality and morbidity associated with HIV and AIDS. The four priority areas of the Framework include strengthening communications and advocacy, strengthening surveillance, providing interventions for people at highest risk, and building program management capacity.

This project compliments the ongoing Health Sector Emergency Reconstruction and Development Project, supported by a US$96.4 million grant from the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA). This project is helping to expand delivery of high-impact basic health services and ensure equitable access, particularly for women and children in underserved rural areas. To date, more than 200 new health facilities have been established, and 85 percent of them now have female staff. Thousands of community health workers have been trained and deployed to promote healthy behaviors and provide first aid.

The HIV/AIDS Prevention Project will be implemented over a three year period by the Ministry of Public Health. The grant is from the IDA, the World Bank's concessionary lending arm.

For more information on the Bank's work in Afghanistan, please visit:

For more information on the World Bank HIV/AIDS projects in South Asia Region, please visit:


In Kabul:
Abdul Raouf Zia
(93) 702 80800

In Washington:
Erik Nora
(202) 458 4735


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