HIV/AIDS and the Security Sector in Africa

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Throughout history, communicable diseases have weakened the capacity of state institutions to perform core security functions, which compelled many African countries to initiate policies aimed at addressing the impact of HIV/AIDS on the armed forces, police and prisons. These policies address: 1) the role of peacekeepers in the spread or control of HIV, 2) public health versus human rights dilemma, 3) the gender dimensions of HIV in the armed forces, and 4) the impact of HIV on the police and prisons. While this volume does not address all aspects of the impact of HIV/AIDS on the security sector, the contributors nonetheless highlight the potentials and limits of existing policies in Africa’s security sector.



HIV/AIDS among Cameroonian prison staff: Response to a deadly challenge

Before the 1980s, HIV/AIDS was unknown to people throughout the world. The discovery of AIDS first raised doubts across society, especially as it was said to have no specific symptoms, to be partly or mostly related to sex (and therefore a taboo topic and source of shame and stigma) and to be incurable. Today, no country can honestly claim to be exempt from the HIV/AIDS scourge. Moreover, within a given community, some social or professional groups are more exposed to the epidemic for reasons related to either education, culture, age, sex or mental attitude. Sub-Saharan Africa is known to be the region worst hit by the epidemic. The impact of the epidemic on uniformed defence and security sectors in Africa is worth examining not only because of the high risk of infection within these groups, but also because of the devastating impact of the disease on the economy, the defence capacity and the security alertness of the countries concerned. Along with the rest of this book, this chapter seeks to contribute to the efforts being made to understand the policy dynamics as African countries strive to address the impact of HIV/AIDS on the uniformed, defence and security forces in Africa.


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