Abdul-Hafed al-Ward, secretary-general of the Integrated Care Association for People Living with HIV, told IRIN: "Poverty and HIV/AIDS go together and whenever the former exists so does the latter." He said most HIV/AIDS cases were among the poor.
Yemen is ranked 153 out of 177 countries on the UN Development Programme's (UNDP’s) 2007-08 Human Development Index. According to the Poverty Assessment Report 2007 prepared by the UNDP, the World Bank and the Yemeni government, the percentage of poor people among Yemen's 21 million population stood at 34.8 percent. According to the UNDP office in Yemen, 15.7 percent of the population lives on less than US$1 a day and 45.2 percent live on less than US$2 a day.
Khaled Abdul-Majid, a programme officer at the UNDP office in Sanaa, said state institutions lacked the capacity to tackle HIV/AIDS, adding: "When there are not enough jobs, young people feel they have no future. Some resort to prostitution." He also said internal and external migration had played a role in spreading the virus.
Suad al-Qadasi, chair of the Women's Forum for Research and Training (WFRT), a local NGO, said prostitution and commercial sex work had begun to increase rapidly over the past three years.
"But Yemen is a conservative community which does not acknowledge this phenomenon. This is a problem in itself," she told IRIN.
The WFRT recently conducted a survey on commercial sex work but found that people were not willing to admit to its existence. “Denying it is a problem as awareness rests on acknowledging that the phenomenon exists," Suad said, warning that if the situation continued, HIV/AIDS would be rife.
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