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How climate change undermines the war on HIV in Africa

People who are forced to migrate as a result of drought have no easy access to support for their family and friends, or to HIV treatment, Low said, the lead author of the study, by telephone from New York to Thomson Reuters.

People who lose the stability of their communities are more likely to engage in high-risk sex, get HIV or stop HIV treatment, the study said. Expanded poverty and exposure to worsening droughts, floods and other climatic hazards make Africa one of the continents the most endangered impacts of climate change, UN disaster officials said.

South Africa experienced two years of regional drought-induced El Niño in 2014-2015 – one of the worst decades. In 2016, this has caused food shortages and higher prices, affecting nearly 40 million people in the region under the World Food Program.

In Lesoth, more than half of the world's population lives less than $ 1.90 a day, and 55% of them grow their own food, making them particularly susceptible to drought.

According to the United Nations HIV / AIDS Agency, the country has the second highest HIV prevalence in the world, at 2.2 million on average, near nearby eSwatini (formerly Swaziland).

Child in school

Low and colleagues have said that ways to reduce the risk of HIV associated with climatic shocks include providing easy access to medical care, distributing HIV self-testing reports, and providing cash transfers to cover school fees for families affected by drought who are forced to migrate.

"In the long run, we have to think about the population," Low said, pointing out that it is important for children to stay in classrooms. "If it decreases each time an extreme climatic extreme occurs and they have to take their children out of school, they will have really damaging effects – not just HIV but all aspects of society."

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