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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 280, 21 April 2006

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


LIBERIA: HIV/AIDS infection rising rapidly
BOTSWANA: More funds needed to curb HIV/AIDS-related child deaths
SOUTHERN AFRICA: Fudging the UNGASS report card
SOUTHERN AFRICA: Migrants find sex trade a dead end street
SWAZILAND: Comprehensive OVC policy unveiled
MOZAMBIQUE: The road across the border doesn't go to the promised land
SUDAN: Grannies step in to care for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS


1. Women and HIV/AIDS


LIBERIA: HIV/ AIDS infection rate rising rapidly

Liberia's new government is alarmed at the rapidly rising rate of HIV and AIDS infections, which are now a "serious problem", according to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

"HIV/AIDS is now a serious problem in Liberia. The problem has been increasing very rapidly. Now we are talking an average infection rate of 12 percent; the rate of infection for women and children is higher," said Sirleaf at the recent launch of a new HIV/AIDS public awareness campaign in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and the African Union.

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BOTSWANA: More funds needed to curb HIV/AIDS-related child deaths

More resources could help curb the increasing number of children dying of HIV/AIDS-related illnesses in Botswana, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

"If Botswana had more HIV testing facilities for children aged below 18 months we would have been able to put more children on treatment as soon as possible, which would have helped to reduce infant mortality," said Kutloano Leshomo, UNICEF's spokeswoman in the capital, Gaborone.

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SOUTHERN AFRICA: Fudging the UNGASS report card

As high-level negotiations get underway in preparation for the UN General Assembly's Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS), civil society organisations in Southern Africa are struggling to make their voices heard ...

In South Africa, media coverage has been dominated by whether the government would retreat from blocking UNGASS accreditation for the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and its affiliate, the AIDS Law Project (ALP), over concerns that they would use UNGASS as a platform to criticise the allegedly tardy official response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

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SOUTHERN AFRICA: Migrants find sex trade a dead end street

Last March Janet (not her real name) took a hard look at her prospects and made a drastic decision. Equipped with little more than a friend's phone number, she joined the growing number of Zimbabweans who cross illegally into South Africa every day, looking for a better life.

She felt she knew all about living in South Africa because a friend came home regularly from Johannesburg with gifts for everyone and stories of how well she was doing, and had suggested Janet join her.

Her friend seemed surprised when Janet called to say she had arrived. She said she could not meet her, but directed Janet to a hotel in the city where she could get a job. The hotel's bar was populated by women in skimpy clothing, but Janet did not immediately grasp the situation. "I had never done that kind of work before," said the shy 23-year-old. "It was my first time."

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SWAZILAND: Comprehensive OVC policy unveiled

Swaziland has launched a comprehensive policy to deal with its rapidly expanding population of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).

The US $234.7 million National Plan of Action (NPA) seeks to address the health and education needs of OVC and coordinate the efforts of NGOs and government agencies, to prioritise resources and prevent duplication.

"We seek a nation fit for children; we are committed to that vision," said Prime Minister Themba Dlamini when the plan was launched recently in the capital, Mbabane.

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MOZAMBIQUE: The road across the border doesn't go to the promised land

"I want to forget the past and now try to improve my life," said Sonia, examining with satisfaction her new home, a small one-bedroomed brick house without electricity or water on the outskirts of the Mozambican capital, Maputo.

It is being built for her by Rede Came, a local NGO formed to help people overcome the trauma of trafficking and sexual abuse. When the electricity is connected, Sonia will be able to use her home as a base for her small business.

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SUDAN: Grannies step in to care for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS

"My father died when I was young and my mother died in 2000," said Yomima, 14, one of 250 children known to be orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

She and her three younger siblings live with their 60-year-old grandmother, Catherine, in her mud hut, its corrugated iron roof lined with empty food sacks donated by the American government.

Until last year Catherine was unable to cope with the added financial load of school fees and clothing, but then Help Age International, an NGO, offered financial assistance through the Southern Sudan Older People's Organisation (SSOPO), which received a US $36,000 grant in 2005 from the British annual fundraising event, Comic Relief, to support elderly people caring for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

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1. Women and HIV/AIDS

Although HIV/AIDS has had a devastating affect on the lives of millions of women across the globe, women with HIV are slowly beginning to live longer and stronger lives as a result of access to appropriate information about the pandemic.

The National Women's Health Information Centre provides information to women and links to helpful resources.


Recent SOUTH AFRICA Reports
New sexual offences bill fails to protect rape survivors,  9/May/06
Positive immigrants,  2/May/06
Small clinic at centre of debate over traditional medicine,  1/May/06
Refugees fall through the cracks in free treatment,  28/Apr/06
Health minister blames media for risking AIDS awareness,  13/Apr/06
· AIDS Media Center
· The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
· International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
· International HIV/AIDS Alliance

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.

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