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Science Awareness Said To Be Lacking In Rural Ethiopia

Panafrican News Agency
November 10, 1999
by Ghion Hagos

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Several people living with HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia have testified that lack of awareness about the incurable disease had been instrumental to its fast spread in the country's rural areas.

This was exposed in Addis Ababa Tuesday at the first international conference on AIDS in Ethiopia.

One of the patients from South Gondar, Amhara Regional state, in north- western Ethiopia, stated that while some efforts had been made in the towns in his area to raise public awareness about the killer disease, "this effort had yet to reach people in rural farm communities in our area."

A young widow with three children, who lost her husband to AIDS six months ago, pointed out that in north Wollo in east-central Amhara regional state, people with AIDS were often "quarantined."

She noted that this was due to lack of proper understanding of the nature of the disease and how it is transmitted.

Another woman from southern Ethiopia regional state, who said she lives in town, related that when she was informed at the local hospital that her husband died of AIDS some seven years ago, "I knew I had to wait for my turn."

She was HIV positive at the time but it took some years before she developed AIDS. "My neighbours, who avoided me when I was a carrier of the virus, no longer ostracise me," she added.

According to her, this change in the attitude was due to the awareness created by health workers and youth groups about AIDS in her home town.

The three, and others who related their experiences, called for greater efforts to save more people in rural Ethiopia, where AIDS awareness was inadequate, from becoming victims of the killer disease.

The theme of the four-day conference, which ends Wednesday, is "Fight for Life."

It has brought together some 1,500 participants -- two-thirds of them from Ethiopia, including scientists and social workers on AIDS from Africa, north America and Europe.

The meeting is expected to pass recommendations for Ethiopia's long-term HIV/AIDS prevention programme.

Copyright (c) 1999 Panafrican News Agency. Distributed via Africa News Online ( For information about the content or for permission to redistribute, publish or use for broadcast, contact the publisher.

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