Sri Lanka at risk of economic damage from AIDS: World Bank

Sri Dharanee Performance Arts Theatre

March 01, 2009 (LBO) – A new World Bank report says Sri Lanka must improve HIV/AIDS prevention programmes to prevent the disease causing economic damage. Conditions contributing to high vulnerability include the war, high mobility of soldiers and refugees, and separation of spouses due to overseas employment, said the report on how HIV and AIDS in South Asia present an economic development risk.

Although a low-prevalence country, new economic developments like expansion of FTZs and increasing migration of young adults to urban areas increase Sri Lanka’s vulnerability.

“HIV and AIDS can pose a serious economic and social development risk to countries in South Asia unless prevention programmes, targeting vulnerable groups at high risk of infection, are scaled up,” it said.

The report argues that, even if the overall prevalence rate is low (up to 0.5 percent), there is high and rising HIV prevalence among vulnerable groups at high risk for HIV infection.

The vulnerable groups include sex workers and their clients, and injecting drug users and their partners.

“Without increasing prevention interventions among those at highest risk, t