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HIV/AIDS and the Security Sector in Africa

image of HIV/AIDS and the Security Sector in Africa
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.

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The African Union and the HIV/AIDS crisis: Harnessing alternative policy options

The HIV and AIDS crisis is now largely construed as a (human) security issue. HIV virulence has already reached crisis proportions in many developing regions of the world, and it constitutes a threat to peace, security and development in most of Africa. Africa, more than any other region, bears the major mortality, morbidity and human security burdens of HIV and AIDS. Consecutive global AIDS epidemic updates by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) state that sub-Saharan Africa is the worst hit in comparison with other regions of the world. Every aspect of the continent’s life is directly affected by the crisis, in particular the economic, social, political, cultural and, more recently, the military and related security sectors. The impact is most visible in the rising numbers of the workforce – including the military – either dying of AIDS or unable to find a job because of society-induced stigmatization of HIV.

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