IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 147, 19 September 2003
Wednesday 8 October 2003


East Africa
Great Lakes
Horn of Africa
Southern Africa
West Africa


Country Profiles
Conferences / Research
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News Briefs

AFRICA: Generic AIDS drug plan supported
SOUTH AFRICA: Mining company leads in AIDS treatment
AFRICA: Stronger support urged for adolescent AIDS
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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 147, 19 September 2003


MOZAMBIQUE: ARV project brings improved health and renewed hope
GLOBAL: Older people and orphans overlooked
LESOTHO: Culture undermines prevention efforts
SOUTH AFRICA: MCC softens stance on Nevirapine
KENYA: Activists demand better access to antiretrovirals
GREAT LAKES: Activists lobby for cheaper HIV/AIDS drugs
UGANDA: Drug price cuts yet to reach PWAs


1. ICASA website
2. The Supply Initiative
3. Well Women Media Project
4. Report on Reproductive Revolution
5. Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance



MOZAMBIQUE: ARV project brings improved health and renewed hope

A pilot project providing antiretroviral (ARV) therapy to HIV-positive people in Mozambique has had a constructive effect on the quality of life of its beneficiaries.

One such beneficiary is 31-year-old Graça Neves, who rejected assertions that it would be difficult for Mozambicans, many of whom are poor and uneducated, to maintain the drug regimen.

"I always take my tablets on time and even my daughters remember them. They always ask [me if I] have taken [the] tablets," she said.

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GLOBAL: Older people and orphans overlooked

HIV/AIDS policymakers are not acknowledging the key roles of senior citizens and orphans in their strategies to combat the pandemic, says an NGO report released this week.

"Few national HIV/AIDS policies pay adequate attention to the growing numbers of orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS, and even less make provision for their older carers and guardians," says the report "Forgotten families, Older People as Carers of Orphans and Vulnerable Children", written by HelpAge International and International HIV/AIDS Alliance.

Currently about 16 million children under the age of 15 worldwide have lost one or both parents to AIDS. This figure is expected to rise to a staggering 40 million in 10 years time. Many of the children are taken in by grandparents, who struggle with meagre resources to support them.

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LESOTHO: Culture undermines prevention efforts in Lesotho

Social and cultural norms and traditions in Lesotho are hampering efforts to combat the rising HIV/AIDS epidemic, government officials told PlusNews.

Mathoriso Monaheng, Director of Administration at the Lesotho AIDS Programme Co-ordinating Agency (LAPCA), said the first case of HIV/AIDS was detected in Lesotho in 1986, when "a medical practitioner from East Africa, working in the Mokhotlong district, about 8 hours drive from [the capital] Maseru," was diagnosed as HIV-positive.

"As a result, everybody concluded that it was a disease for the foreigner. It was perceived to be a disease for Makwerekwere [a derogative term for foreign Africans]."

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SOUTH AFRICA: MCC softens stance on Nevirapine

South Africa's Medicines Control Council (MCC) has given pharmaceutical company Boehringer-Ingelheim a further six months to provide new data to avoid the de-registration of Nevirapine for use in prevention of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV.

The decision came almost two months after the regulatory body threatened to withdraw the use of the antiretroviral (ARV) if its manufacturers failed to come up with new evidence supporting the use of the drug.

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KENYA: Activists demand better access to antiretrovirals

A lobby group, the Kenya Coalition for Access to Essential Medicines, is demanding that the government provide affordable or free antiretrovirals (ARV) for Kenyans.

"What we want to see is an expanded programme to treat as many people as possible," said Gitura Mwaura, Chairman of the coalition. "We believe the government has the resources, and can do something," he said. "Its priorities need to change."

Of the some three million people living with HIV in Kenya, at least 10 percent are in urgent need of ARVs, while only between 7,000 and 10,000 are able to access them - mainly through mission hospitals, the private sector, or NGOs who sponsor the drugs.

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GREAT LAKES: Activists lobby for cheaper HIV/AIDS drugs

Delegates at a conference on HIV/AIDS in Africa's Great Lakes region, held this week, explored ways in which people living with the disease could gain greater access to affordable antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.

The conference, the second of its kind in the Great Lakes, brings together delegates from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, as well as representatives of the World Bank, UNAIDS, NGOs and the UK-based Community Health and Information Network.

In a speech during the opening of the three-day conference on Tuesday, Rwandan Health Minister Abel Dushimimana said only 1 percent of Africans living with HIV/AIDS had access to ARV drugs.

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UGANDA: Drug price cuts yet to reach PWAs

People living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda are yet to benefit from drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline's recent announcement of price cuts of up to 40 percent for anti-AIDS drugs in the developing world.

Despite the pharmaceutical company's pledge, the Ugandan government has been unable to obtain key antiretrovirals at the reduced price.

The government has been told by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) officials that it must first purchase the existing stock of the company's ARVs in Uganda "at the previous - and higher - prices, before being able to take advantage of [GlaxoSmithKline's] new ... pricing for developing world countries," said a statement by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, an NGO running free AIDS treatment clinics in Uganda and South Africa.

But GlaxoSmithKline accused the NGO of "disseminating misleading information", as the Ugandan government had placed their order before the drug company had announced its price cuts.

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1. The 13th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) takes place between 21 and 26 September 2003, in Nairobi, Kenya. The conference is a forum where, every two years, African scientists, social leaders, political leaders and communities come together to share experiences and updates on responses to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The objectives are to: review and discuss updates on major advances in understanding the epidemic; provide a forum for critical analysis of various responses to the HIV/AIDS/STI epidemic; and outline and set effective strategies and priorities for dealing with epidemics from an African point of view.

2. The Supply Initiative has been set up to call attention to the lack of essential supplies for HIV/AIDS prevention, family planning, contraception and other vital sexual and reproductive health care services. Four leading reproductive health organisations have joined forces to enlist global support and commitment from major supply donors and buyers, public sector providers, multi- and bi-lateral agencies, NGOs and governments.

3. The Well Women Media Project works with local audiences to develop interactive radio and television programmes that promote "positive" attitudes to women's reproductive and sexual health. Programmes include soap operas and phone-in shows dealing with issues such as HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and female genital mutilation. The project has been launched in three regions: the Somali-speaking Horn of Africa, the African Great Lakes Region and Cambodia, and reaches a total audience of 32 million people.

4. Birth rates in developing countries have continued to decline since 1990, as contraceptive use increases, and people want to have fewer children, according to the latest issue of Population Reports published by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Centre for Communication Programmes (CCP). Yet many couples are having more children than they would prefer.

Moreover, child survival rates lag far behind international goals for 2000, set a decade earlier. During the 1990s an average of 11 million children under the age of five died each year in developing countries. In some countries the AIDS epidemic offset improvements in child survival.
A full text of the report can be seen on line at:

5. The Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa (CHGA), chaired by K.Y. Amoako, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), was officially launched on 17 September 2003 in Addis Ababa, at an event attended by world leaders, including former President Kenneth Kaunda and Prime Minister Pascoal Mucumbi of Mozambique, two of the Patrons of CHGA.

The CHGA's Secretariat, which is based at the ECA, has mandate is to study the impacts of HIV/AIDS on state structures and Africa's economic development. "The core challenge for CHGA research is to capture the complex linkages between human capacity losses at the micro level (households), their relationship to the core indicators of economic growth at the macro level and, crucially, their likely implications for inter-generational survival of families, communities and states", the Commission said in a statement.

CHGA's work will culminate in a Final Report in June 2005. The Report will analyse the governance and development threats posed by the pandemic and contain policy options for mounting an effective response.



Recent AFRICA Reports

IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 149, 3 October 2003,  3/Oct/03
US assistance to alleviate impact of HIV/AIDS on education,  2/Oct/03
Govt clarifies Mbeki's statement on HIV/AIDS,  30/Sep/03
IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 148, 26 September 2003,  26/Sep/03
Universities urged to teach HIV/AIDS awareness,  25/Sep/03


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