IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 176, 9 April 2004
Wednesday 23 June 2004
Home About PlusNews Country Profiles News Briefs Special Reports Subscribe Archive IRINnews


East Africa
Great Lakes
Horn of Africa
Southern Africa
·South Africa
West Africa


PlusNews E-mail Subscription

IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 176, 9 April 2004

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


SOUTH AFRICA: Special report on a decade of democracy - HIV/AIDS
BOTSWANA: New voluntary testing centre opens
SOUTH AFRICA: A "House of Life" cares for the dying
RWANDA: HIV/AIDS project registers high acceptance rate - UNICEF
AFRICA: Combined initiative announced for drop in anti-AIDS treatment costs
BOTSWANA: Caregivers manual launched
AFRICA: More pressing concerns than HIV/AIDS - survey


1. TakingITGlobal
2. Africa Regional Sexuality Resource Centre
3. The Positive Women's Network



SOUTH AFRICA: Special report on a decade of democracy - HIV/AIDS

In May 1994, a month after being sworn in as the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) drew up a National Health Plan, with technical assistance from the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children's Fund.

The plan dealt at length with HIV/AIDS, pointing out that, "In view of the devastating implications of the epidemic for South Africa, it is mandatory to define prevention and control interventions, plus comprehensive care for those already infected, within the context of the Bill of Rights."

The ANC called for the development and implementation of an effective HIV/AIDS strategy by the end of 1995.

Only now, a decade later, is a comprehensive treatment plan being rolled out.

More details

BOTSWANA: New voluntary testing centre opens

Parents the world over usually find it difficult to talk to their children about sex, even if they are growing up in a country like Botswana, with one of the highest HIV rates on the planet.

Embarrassment over discussing matters related to sex, and the stigma surrounding those that are HIV-positive, are helping to drive the pandemic: these are challenges the Botswana government hopes to overcome. This week it opened the latest voluntary HIV testing facility in Molepolole, about 50 km outside the capital, Gaborone.

Local leaders and government officials urged the community to use the Tebelelopele Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre to know their status. There are around 16 such centres countrywide.

"Ignorance can kill you," US ambassador Joseph Huggins remarked at the opening of the centre. "This disease is not a respecter of persons or rank. Whatever your station in life, one could be infected with this disease and, through stigma and denial, not even know it."

More details

SOUTH AFRICA: A "House of Life" cares for the dying

A TV music channel blares as a passing nurse swings her hips to pop rhythms, cheered on by patients in rickety hospital beds. At first glance Ikhaya Lobomi ("House of Life") seems to do its name justice but, on closer examination, it becomes clear that this is a place for the rejected and the dying.

The intense smell of sickness, mixed with the odour of decay, lingers in the air of this AIDS hospice, located in the lush green Kwanyuswa area in the Valley of a Thousand Hills in South Africa's eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal.

In one of the beds lie the remains of Mandla Ngcobo (not his real name), covered only by a white sheet. He died three days ago but nobody has come to claim his body, and it has now begun to fester in the 30șC heat of the humid coastal province.

Ngcobo's family refuses to be associated with a relative who died of AIDS. It is now up to the hospice to bury the deceased, but a funeral costs more than the volunteer-run clinic can afford. Until the next donation comes in, Ngcobo's body will have to stay where it is.

More details

RWANDA: HIV/AIDS project registers high acceptance rate - UNICEF

A pilot project in Rwanda for the prevention of mother-to-child HIV infection has registered a high rate of acceptance, helping to improve the chances of HIV positive mothers giving birth to HIV negative children, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported on Tuesday.

Rwanda is one of eight pilot countries in eastern and southern Africa that participated in the project in 1999, involving trials for use of antiretrovirals (ARVs) to minimise the possibility of HIV infection from mother to child.

"At the start of the trial, UNICEF did not know whether mothers would agree to be tested for HIV when they attended antenatal clinics," the agency reported. "If they tested positive, would they accept preventive treatment for their unborn babies by going on a course of ARVs before, during and after the birth?"

The head of UNICEF's HIV/AIDS programme, Dr Robert Limlim, was quoted as saying: "By December 2000 it was clear that we had a very high rate of acceptance. More than 95 percent of the mothers were tested. And more than 85 percent of the ones who were positive agreed to join the programme."

More details

AFRICA: Combined initiative announced for drop in anti-AIDS treatment costs

The Global AIDS Fund, the World Bank, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Clinton Foundation announced on Tuesday that they would join forces to enable developing countries to purchase high-quality anti-AIDS medicines and equipment for HIV/AIDS tests at the lowest prices.

UNICEF executive director, Carol Bellamy, said: "This new partnership works to break down some of the barriers, such as price, supply and demand, that are impeding access to life-saving AIDS medicines and diagnostics in developing countries. UNICEF is very proud to be part of this creative initiative that promises to save lives and bring hope to millions of children and families around the world."

If the initiative succeeds, generic drugs made by Indian and South African pharmaceutical companies could reach virtually every poor country at less than 50 percent of current prices.

"We regard AIDS as being the single most important issue at the moment in Africa, because of the devastating effect that it has had throughout the continent," World Bank President James Wolfensohn said.

More details

BOTSWANA: Caregivers manual launched

A new manual designed to help health care workers deal with the impact of HIV/AIDS has been launched in Botswana.

"The effect on nurses of seeing so many patients die is devastating," said health minister Lesego Motsumi. "If psychological needs and the learning needs of the caregivers are neglected, they may affect their effectiveness and confidence in their practice of care, therefore they need to be addressed."

The manual, "Caring for the Caregivers", was released last week in a country with one of the world's highest levels of HIV infection.

Not only are health workers having to deal with the impact of HIV/AIDS at the professional level in terms of the rising numbers of patients, but also in their personal lives. More than a third of Botswana's 1.7 million people are estimated to be HIV positive.

More details

AFRICA: More pressing concerns than HIV/AIDS - survey

Unemployment and poverty are more pressing concerns for Africans, ahead of the threat of HIV/AIDS, a survey by the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA) has found.

Although interviews with 23,000 adults from 15 African countries showed that many people, especially in east and southern Africa, had lost family members or friends to the pandemic, the disease was still considered less of a priority than concerns over jobs and hunger.

"On a continent in which many people go without basic necessities, the relatively longer-term threat of HIV/AIDS must stand in line behind more pressing, immediate concerns," IDASA's public opinion service programme manager, Bob Mattes, told PlusNews.

Most respondents were undecided about whether their governments should divert resources from other scarce priorities to tackle HIV/AIDS, Mattes said. African publics were not always convinced that HIV/AIDS constituted a problem worthy of government attention.

More details


1. TakingITGlobal is a global online community with young members and contributors from around the world. The site aims at providing youth with the inspiration to make a difference, provides a platform for interactivity with peers, is a source of information on issues, with discussions, opportunities to take action, and a bridge to get involved locally, nationally and globally. Membership is free.

2. Africa Regional Sexuality Resource Centre

A 'let's talk about sex' site, The Africa Regional Sexuality Resource Centre (ARSRC)- part of the Ford Foundation initiative, "Global Dialogue of Sexual Health and Well Being" - aims at increasing visibility, depth and legitimacy in the field of sexuality. This opportunity for public dialogue on human sexuality hopes to contribute to positive changes in the emerging field of sexuality in Africa, by creating mechanisms for learning at the regional level. Check out the fellowships and training available, and the research on themes around sexuality in Africa.

3. The Positive Women's Network

The Positive Women Network provides support to women living with HIV/AIDS to improve their quality of life. Ms Nobantu Prudence Mabele founded the organisation in 1996 as a safe place for women to articulate their own feelings and needs regarding their HIV status, and design 'positive' projects for themselves. The site showcases the work of the organisation and encourages dialogue and suggestions.


Recent AFRICA Reports
Morris calls for increased effort in AIDS fight,  18/Jun/04
IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 186, 18 June 2004,  18/Jun/04
UN welcomes G8 endorsement of HIV vaccine initiative,  14/Jun/04
Church leaders to get more involved in fighting HIV/AIDS,  14/Jun/04
NGO in HIV/AIDS sensitisation efforts,  14/Jun/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 Networks
  • GTZ/Afronets

[Back] [Home Page]

Click to send any feedback, comments or questions you have about IRIN's Website or if you prefer you can send an Email to

The material contained on this Web site comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post any item on this site, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All graphics and Images on this site may not be re-produced without the express permission of the original owner. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2004