IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 166, 30 January 2004
Thursday 22 April 2004
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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 166, 30 January 2004

NEWS:

ZAMBIA: MSF says rural poor lack access to AIDS drugs
MOZAMBIQUE: Stigma remains obstacle to HIV treatment
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: HIV/AIDS awareness team set up for prisoners
COTE D'IVOIRE: More than half the patients tested in rebel hospital HIV positive
ZAMBIA: Feature on fear over HIV drug resistance
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Country Profile
ZIMBABWE: EU aid for health services

LINKS:

1. The International HIV Treatment Access Coalition
2. iThemba Lethu
3. The Body's "Prisoners and HIV/AIDS" page

CONFERENCES/EVENTS/RESEARCH:

JOB OPPORTUNITIES:



ZAMBIA: MSF says rural poor lack access to AIDS drugs

The international medical NGO, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) on Wednesday began supplying free antiretroviral drug treatment to HIV-positive people in Zambia's northeastern Nchelenge district.

MSF said a massive scaling up of treatment programmes was imperative in rural areas, where communities were disintegrating because of HIV/AIDS.

The group has been providing care to HIV-positive people in Nchelenge since 2002, but said some two-thirds of the 350 people currently in the programme were in urgent need of antiretroviral treatment.

Joke van Peteghem, the MSF head of mission in Zambia, said in a statement: "By proving anti-AIDS treatment is possible in a rural poor society, we hope to trigger other actors, such as the UN, NGOs, donor governments and the Zambian government, to step up their efforts in this regard."

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MOZAMBIQUE: Feature - Stigma remains obstacle to HIV treatment

Julia, 24, has three children and is one month pregnant with her fourth baby, but is adamant that she does not want to continue with the pregnancy.

"I've got three children already, I'm unemployed, and I am HIV-positive," she told IRIN.

Although she and her husband, who is also HIV-positive, were always careful, "the condom burst once", resulting in the pregnancy.

Julia took care of her elder sister until she died of an AIDS-related illness last month, leaving behind four children. During this time she was often absent from her job as a domestic worker and was eventually dismissed.

She is also nursing her four-year-old HIV-positive son, who is being treated for tuberculosis. Her eldest child is HIV-negative and the youngest, Vanya, is only eight months old and an infant can only be safely declared HIV-negative after testing at 18 months.

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CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: HIV/AIDS awareness team set up for prisoners

The national anti-HIV/AIDS body in the Central African Republic (CAR) has set up a unit to conduct awareness campaigns among prisoners in police jails in the capital, Bangui, state-owned Radio Centrafrique reported on Tuesday.

"Prisoners often have sexual behaviour with high risks that favour quick propagation of HIV/AIDS," Dr. Marcel Massanga, an official of the Comite National de Lutte contre le Sida, said.

The radio reported that Massanga made the remarks when he took part in the first HIV awareness campaign in the jail at the Bangui Central Police Station.

Massanga said that the unit, which falls within the Ministry for Public Security, would inform prisoners about the risks to which they are exposed by practising homosexuality.

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COTE D IVOIRE: More than half the patients tested in rebel hospital HIV positive

There is no reliable data on the extent to which AIDS has increased in the rebel-held north of Cote d'Ivoire since civil war broke out 16 months ago, but recent informal studies by one haematologist working at the main hospital in the northern town of Korhogo showed alarming results.

Dr Assad Ouattara told IRIN on Monday that he had tested 60 patients at the Korhogo hospital for HIV/AIDS so far this month. Of these, 35 - more than half - were found to be infected with the fatal virus.

Dr Ouattara said he had tested for HIV/AIDS all those patients from whom he had taken blood samples for other forms of blood testing. Some of those who tested positive appeared to be suffering from diseases associated with AIDS, such as tuberculosis, but most simply thought they had malaria. Seven were already so ill with AIDS that he recommended they seek treatment in the economic capital, Abidjan.

Ouattara said HIV/AIDS appeared to be spreading rapidly in Korhogo, a major rebel military base and market centre in the north. He blamed rampant prostitution among girls of school age, who had been made idle by the closure of most schools since the civil war began in September 2003.

"Thank God, classes are about to resume, because here in town we are seeing young girls, abandoned by the education system, indulging in these undesirable activities," Dr Ouattara said.

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ZAMBIA: Feature on fear over HIV drug resistance

Zambian health officials have warned of the emergence of strains of the HI virus that are resistant to current antiretroviral (ARV) drug treatment.

Dr Ben Chirwa, director general of the Central Board of Health, said a recent laboratory study conducted at the University Teaching Hospital in the capital, Lusaka, had confirmed the drug-resistant strain, and its emergence was "clearly an indication that people are not being consistent with their medication."

AIDS expert and former health minister, professor Nkandu Luo, told PlusNews the problem was "immediate and urgent" because of its implications for drug policies and the cost of health care.

"Drug resistance makes it difficult to treat patients ... if people are not getting better, we have to look at other options, which increases the cost of treatment. Zambia can barely afford to provide basic health care to its people - we do not need this additional burden," Luo said.

Last year the government responded to the high cost of ARVs - around US $250 per month - by introducing heavily subsidised medication through the public health system for 10,000 HIV-positive people, at around $8 a month.

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DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Country Profile

The following is a new Country Profile database for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, providing contact details of key AIDS NGOs, government departments and UN agencies, plus the latest epidemiological data and country indicator statistics.

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ZIMBABWE: EU aid for health services

The European Union is this year expected to spend close to US $30 million to help improve Zimbabwe's underfunded health delivery system.

The head of the European Commission (EC) delegation to Zimbabwe, Francesca Mosca, said in a statement last week the money would be taken from a US $69 million fund committed to Zimbabwe for the period 2000 to 2006.

More details



LINKS:

1. The International HIV Treatment Access Coalition

The site includes people living with HIV/AIDS, advocacy groups, NGOs, governments, foundations, the private sector, and academic and research institutions, working to expand access to HIV treatment to the growing number of people living with HIV/AIDS in low- and middle-income countries, by disseminating and exchanging information.

2. iThemba Lethu

This is a voluntary association of people concerned about the future of young people and children threatened by HIV /AIDS, especially in the Durban area of South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province.

3. The Body's "Prisoners and HIV/AIDS" page

The Body's "Prisoners and HIV/AIDS" page has links to dozens of articles, including personal accounts, legal information, HIV/AIDS treatment, and general news.


[ENDS]

Recent SOUTHERN AFRICA Reports

Food security through the lens of HIV/AIDS, 16/Apr/04
Five NGOs to receive USAID grants for HIV/AIDS programmes, 14/Apr/04
Treatment programmes skewed in favour of urban males, 30/Mar/04
Interview with researcher Paul Harvey on humanitarian aid and HIV, 24/Mar/04
AIDS conference underway in Zimbabwe, 4/Mar/04

PARTNERS

PlusNews is produced under the banner of RHAIN, the Southern African Regional HIV/AIDS Information Network. RHAIN's members currently include:

  • UNAIDS

  • IRIN

  • Inter Press Service (IPS)

  • SAfAIDS

  • PANOS

  • Health Systems Trust

  • Health & Development
    Network

  • GTZ/Afronets


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