IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 171, 5 March 2004
Thursday 22 April 2004
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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 171, 5 March 2004


AFRICA: PlusNews Web Special - Gender and HIV/AIDS
AFRICA: Global Fund calls for bold proposals
SOUTHERN AFRICA: AIDS conference underway in Zimbabwe
SOUTH AFRICA: Mobile clinics provide sex workers with health care
ETHIOPIA: Calls for greater youth involvement in anti-AIDS fight
SOUTH AFRICA: Anti-HIV programme fails rape victims
CAMEROON: Unsafe sex for youths despite HIV/AIDS
ETHIOPIA: Botswana and Ethiopia to cooperate in fighting HIV/AIDS


1. International Union for Health Promotion and Education
2. HIV and
3. Youthshakers



AFRICA: PlusNews Web Special - Gender and HIV/AIDS

PlusNews has launched a new Web Special to mark International Women's Day on 8 March 2004.

A series of features from Angola, Swaziland and Zambia examines the connection between gender and HIV/AIDS. The Web Special also links to a campaign by the UN's Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Support Office for the Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa, which explores the region's humanitarian crisis "Through the Eyes of Women".

The Web Special can be viewed at:

AFRICA: Global Fund calls for bold proposals

The Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has called on governments and NGOs to put forward bold project proposals that stress HIV treatment in the new funding round.

"Round 4 funding is going on right now. The call for proposals went out on 10 January 2004. We currently have at least US $900 million in the Fund for this round, in which we particularly want ambitious proposals for programmes that involve antiretroviral treatment. The amount is likely to grow to around US $1 billion, so my plea here today is to say, 'please apply,'" Christoph Benn, the Fund's director of external affairs told the third annual Pan-African Treatment Access Movement (PATAM) conference in Harare, Zimbabwe, this week.

The US-based Health GAP (Global Access Project) said it was critical that the Country Coordinating Mechanisms (CCMs) submitted proposals for Round 4 that were ambitious, technically sound and prioritised the scaling-up of access to treatment if the World Health Organisation's (WHO) goal of three million people on ARVs by 2005 was to be realised.

PATAM brought AIDS activists from across Africa to Harare to discuss how to scale up access to ARVs in Southern Africa.

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SOUTHERN AFRICA: AIDS conference underway in Zimbabwe

A conference on the scaling up of antiretroviral (ARV) therapy in Southern Africa opened this week in Harare, Zimbabwe.

The first of its kind in the country, the event is being hosted by the Pan-African Treatment Access Movement (PATAM), the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), Zimbabwe Activists on HIV and AIDS (ZAHA) and the Southern Africa HIV/AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS).

Addressing journalists on Wednesday at the start of the conference, SAfAIDS executive director, Lois Lunga, said the meeting could provide an opportunity for countries to review some of the challenges faced in the rollout of ARVs.

He said the three-day conference, "Scaling up Treatment in Southern Africa: A Way Forward", was also expected to focus on the need for more public information on antiretroviral drug treatment.

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SOUTH AFRICA: Mobile clinics provide sex workers with health care

Mobile clinics for sex workers in Johannesburg's inner-city suburb of Hillbrow have had a positive impact on encouraging women to seek health care, according to research just released in South Africa.

Between 5,000 and 10,000 sex workers operate out of rundown Hillbrow, one of the most densely populated areas in the country.

According to a 1997 study of commercial sex workers in Johannesburg, 45 percent of the 247 tested in Hillbrow were HIV-positive. Most alarming was that those who had been sex workers for only three months displayed similar levels of infection to those who had been working for a year.

The Reproductive Health Research Unit (RHRU), a privately funded organisation affiliated to the University of the Witwatersrand, launched mobile clinics in 2000, which visited 12 Hillbrow hotels used by sex workers. The project has brought health care services directly to women who tended to avoid public facilities due to concerns over stigma and discrimination.

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ETHIOPIA: Calls for greater youth involvement in anti-AIDS fight

Ethiopia's youth were on Wednesday urged to join the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic devastating the country. Bjorn Ljungvist, head of the UN Children Fund (UNICEF) in Ethiopia, said young people constituted the "greatest hope" in combating the virus.

His rallying call was voiced during a gathering at the UN Conference Centre in the capital, Addis Ababa, to discuss ways of boosting the role of young people, and the anti-AIDS clubs springing up in the country.

"Much needs to be done with and by young people, to strengthen their capacity to make a difference," Ljungvist told the delegates. "Young people are extremely vulnerable to HIV infection for many reasons," he said, citing risky sexual behaviour, lack of information, and the sexual exploitation of girls. "But just as much as young people are at greatest risk, they also offer the greatest hope, and are a potential force to curb the pandemic."

Like many other African nations, Ethiopia has a growing number of people between the ages of 15 and 24, who constitute about 30 percent of the population. According to the health ministry, the country also has one of the world's largest populations living with HIV/AIDS.

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SOUTH AFRICA: Anti-HIV programme fails rape victims

Human rights activists said mixed messages and government inaction were undermining South Africa's pledge to provide victims of sexual assault with drugs to help reduce their chances of HIV infection.

In a new report, "Deadly Delay: South Africa's Efforts to Prevent HIV in Survivors of Sexual Violence," Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the HIV/AIDS epidemic had turned sexual assault into a possible death sentence, but many rape victims still had little or no access to antiretroviral drugs.

In the face of an explosive HIV/AIDS epidemic, the government pledged in April 2002 to provide a course of drugs known as post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, as part of a comprehensive package of services for rape survivors. Research shows that obtaining PEP soon after the sexual assault can reduce the victim's risk of contracting HIV.

However, the government had failed to provide adequate information on or training for the programme to police, health workers, counsellors or victims, the 73-page report said.

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CAMEROON: Unsafe sex for youths despite HIV/AIDS

A study by the German technical assistance agency (GTZ), says two-thirds of teenagers in Cameroon are sexually active by age 16, and more than half of them shun condoms, despite the risk of HIV infection.

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ETHIOPIA: Botswana and Ethiopia to cooperate in fighting HIV/AIDS

The leaders of two African countries severely hit by HIV/AIDS have agreed to cooperate in combating the pandemic. Botswana President Festus Mogae, who on Monday started an official four-day visit to Ethiopia to boost bilateral relations, and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said their two countries would share experiences in fighting the virus.

Botswana has one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the world - over 35 percent of its 1.6 million people. According to UNAIDS, the epidemic continues to gain ground and, while some successes have been made in a decade-long response, the country has been unable to keep pace.

Ethiopia, according to UNAIDS, has progressed to having the 16th-highest prevalence rate globally. An estimated 5,000 people are infected every week, with the result that almost 3 million people are infected and nearly a million children have been orphaned.

"We are both afflicted by HIV/AIDS," Mogae told officials and journalists at the National Palace in the capital, Addis Ababa. "What we can do is exchange notes and experiences," he said, specifying that anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment and voluntary testing would be two key areas on which they would focus their joint efforts.

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1. International Union for Health Promotion and Education

The mission of The International Union for Health Promotion and Education (the IUHPE) is to promote global health, and contribute to the achievement of equity in health between and within countries of the world, on a range of issues of international significance.

2. HIV and

This site posts new information on HIV and Hepatitis every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, as well as on other days if there is important breaking news relating to the two diseases. A range of AIDS-related topics such as tests for HIV, experimental treatments and adverse drug reactions are also covered.

3. Youthshakers

A global network of youth working on sexual health issues. The website was designed for peer educators, youth activists and young people looking for information about sexual health and HIV/AIDS. It provides information on contraceptives, and reproductive and sexual health for young people. It also features articles by youth activists from around the world, youth-run and youth-friendly programme profiles, and message boards for chatting with other educators and activists.


Recent AFRICA Reports

ARV rollout set to begin in Eastern Cape, 22/Apr/04
Food security through the lens of HIV/AIDS, 16/Apr/04
IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 177, 16 April 2004, 16/Apr/04
Five NGOs to receive USAID grants for HIV/AIDS programmes, 14/Apr/04
HIV/AIDS threatens to undermine democracy, 9/Apr/04


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


  • IRIN

  • Inter Press Service (IPS)



  • Health Systems Trust

  • Health & Development

  • GTZ/Afronets

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