Yaounde — Teenage girls growing up in Lesotho in areas hit by harsh drought and other climate shocks are more likely to drop out of school, start having sex earlier and contract HIV, researchers say. In a study looking at the link between climate change and HIV infection since antiretroviral (ARV) treatment drugs became widely available in Sub-Saharan Africa, researchers found that severe drought threatens to drive new HIV infections. In the urban areas of Lesotho researchers looked at, droughts were linked to an almost five-fold increase in the number of girls selling sex and a three-fold increase in those being forced into sexual relations. Such findings mean climate shocks — which can bring displacement, loss of income and other problems — threaten to undermine progress made in HIV treatment, said Andrea Low, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the International Centre for AIDS Care and Treatment Programmes at Columbia University. “I think the real concern is that we have g...

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