The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched Tuesday a multi-million dollar appeal for an AIDS treatment programme in five African countries.
The IFCR is seeking 21 million Swiss francs (13 million euros, 21 million dollars) for a three-year programme in Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Nigeria.
The programme in the countries, which form the Sahel region of west and central Africa, will run between 2008 and 2010.
The region, like other parts of Africa, is struggling to cope with the disastrous consequences of HIV, said Abdourahmane Ndiaye, IFRC's HIV programme officer for the region.
"Even though the impact may vary from one country to another, HIV is a major obstacle to development as it affects all key sectors: the economy, health, education and even food security," he added.
The community-based programme would reach 950,000 vulnerable people, including 10,000 orphans, 49,000 people living with HIV and 13,000 sex workers, said the statement.
Nearly 4.5 million, including some 400,000 children aged below 14 years, are living with HIV in the five countries, according to IFRC estimates based on global UNAIDS statistics.
In 2006, 350,000 people died of AIDS in these five countries, where the disease had already left 1.9 million children orphans.