By Caty Weaver

This is Bill White with the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.

The Peace Corps is beginning a program to deal with the increasing spread of the disease AIDS in Africa. Peace Corps Director Mark Schneider recently announced the new program.

Mr. Schneider said AIDS in Africa is the leading humanitarian crisis in the world. More than thirty-four-million people in the world have been infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Twenty-four-million people in Africa are infected with HIV. An estimated fourteen-million Africans already have died of the disease. And eleven-million children have lost both parents to AIDS.

AIDS is most common in African countries south of the Sahara Desert. A new United Nations report says ten percent of people between fifteen and forty-nine are infected with HIV in sixteen of these countries.

The new Peace Corps program will help people in twenty-five African nations. The organization already has an anti-AIDS program carried out by health workers. The new program will include all Peace Corps projects in Africa. All two-thousand-four-hundred workers there will be trained to teach HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment. During the next three years, five-thousand Peace Corps workers will take part in the effort.

Mr. Schneider says this means Peace Corps workers in agriculture will work with farmers to increase their understanding of AIDS. He says the same will be true for workers in education and business. AIDS education will be added to their other duties.

A second part of the new AIDS effort will increase cooperation among the Peace Corps and African health workers, teachers, business people and non-governmental organizations. The Peace Corps also plans to call on former Peace Corps workers to take part in the new effort. This group of former workers is called the Crisis Corps. Two-hundred former workers will be sent to Africa to work for up to six months on AIDS projects.

Mr. Schneider also announced a five-hundred-thousand dollar gift to help the Peace Corps AIDS project. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is providing the money. Mr. Schneider says it will permit Peace Corps workers to reach thousands more people in Africa.

This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Caty Weaver. This is Bill White.

Voice of America Special English