Envoy urges speedy action on AIDS

Angola must make HIV/AIDS a priority or suffer a fate potentially more damaging than its 27-year civil war, a senior UN official has warned.

Experts believe the civil conflict, which ended in April 2002, kept the virus to an estimated national HIV prevalence of just 3.9 percent.

However, Stephen Lewis, the UN special envoy for AIDS in Africa, said there was no room for complacency and urged authorities not to hold back their efforts to "squash the scourge".

Reuters quoted Lewis as saying: "I would say to the people of Angola that you have a very brief moment of opportunity - lose it, and you will find yourself facing a war against the pandemic, which is more terrible than the civil war which has now ended."