IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 188, 2 July 2004
Saturday 21 August 2004
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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 188, 2 July 2004

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


AFRICA: ILO calls for change in work practices
SWAZILAND: Order needed in chaotic ARV programme
SOUTHERN AFRICA: Focus on sex education - an antidote to HIV/AIDS
UGANDA: US to provide US $51 million for HIV/AIDS
NIGERIA: Journalism student says expelled for having HIV


1. World AIDS Conference Wiki
2. The Stop HIV Site



AFRICA: ILO calls for change in work practices

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is calling on governments, employers and trade unions to recognise their responsibility as leaders to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS by changing attitudes and practices in the workplace.

The epidemic is rapidly changing the labour force. Most of the 40 million people living with HIV globally are men and women in their economically productive years. Women comprise half the population living with HIV and also make up the majority of the world's poor.

Women often carry the twin burdens of care-giving and income generation. "Many women experience sexual and economic subordination in their personal relationships and at work," said the ILO report. "The workplace mirrors and sometimes exacerbates gender inequalities and discrimination present in society as a whole."

Research in Kenya's export industries by the International Labour Rights Fund found that women experienced violence and harassment as a normal part of their working lives, and "over 90 percent of those interviewed had experienced or observed sexual abuse at their workplace."

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SWAZILAND: Order needed in chaotic ARV programme

Citing deaths they claim are due to the improper introduction of
antiretrovirals (ARVs) in Swaziland, AIDS activists have called for an urgent public education campaign and proper testing facilities to monitor patients' reaction to the drugs.

"The WHO [World Health Organisation] guidelines specify that people taking ARVs must be tested 14 days after they first use them. This is important for Nevirapine, which can be toxic in some people. But in Swaziland, it takes up to a month before testing can be done," Hannie Dlamini, president of the Swaziland AIDS Support Organisation, told PlusNews.

Dlamini said members of his group, which counsels people living with HIV and AIDS, and dispenses ARVs, have died of liver poisoning, allegedly due to Nevirapine. Sempiwe Hlope, founder of another HIV support group, Swazis for Positive Living, agreed. "There aren't the facilities yet, and the public has to be aware of the dangers of some drugs, and what happens when ARVs are not properly taken," she told PlusNews.

No autopsies have been conducted to determine the cause of death, but AIDS activists are adamant that Nevirapine was to blame.

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SOUTHERN AFRICA: Focus on sex education - an antidote to HIV/AIDS

What most parents would not wish to know is that the age of their children's first sexual encounter is getting younger, and with it the risk of HIV infection.

In Swaziland, nearly one-third of young people in secondary school have had sex by age 16, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). In Zambia, when looking at teenage girls alone, that figure rises to nearly half of those questioned.

The consequences can be shocking. A major survey of South African youth conducted by the University of Witwatersrand's Reproductive Health Research Unit, found that one in every 10 South Africans aged between 15 and 24 was HIV-positive, the vast majority of them young women, many of whom were coerced into their first sexual encounter.

Investing in education, especially for girl children, can be a powerful antidote to HIV infection, raising living standards and opportunities. And with many parents unwilling to talk to their children about safe sex, the importance of structured and appropriate sexual health classes at school becomes all the more important.

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UGANDA: US to provide US $51 million for HIV/AIDS

The emergency plan would ensure that, in its first year, the number of people provided with access to AIDS drugs in Africa
would double. In Uganda the plan has allocated $96 million to date. Apart from providing ARVs for 60,000 people, another 300,000 persons living with HIV, orphans and vulnerable children are to receive care and support. The plan also aims to avert at least 165,000 new HIV infections.

"Of the $51 million, $3.5 million will be used to promote improved blood safety in Uganda, including enhanced blood collection, screening, storage, distribution, and transfusion capabilities" in the context of the US government's five-year $15-billion commitment to fight global HIV/AIDS, focusing on specific developing countries, the statement added.

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NIGERIA: Journalism student says expelled for having HIV

A Nigerian student said on Friday he had been booted out of a Lagos journalism school after he told the director he was infected with the virus that causes AIDS and would need to miss classes one day a month to get treatment.

Fredrick Adegboye, 45, said he planned to take the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) to court if he was not readmitted by the end of next week.

"It was clear to me they were hostile to my HIV status," he told PlusNews on Friday. "It's a quite reprehensible way to treat a human being."

Neither the director nor the registrar of the institute returned PlusNews' calls. An NIJ official said the institute would issue a statement but did not say when and declined further comment.

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1. World AIDS Conference Wiki

This new AIDS "wiki" is available to AIDS professionals attending the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok. (A 'wiki' is a simple Web site which allows any user to post and edit content. One example of a wiki is 'Wikipedia', a public encyclopedia site.) With no other "wiki" site for the World AIDS Conference, the authors broaden their original idea to include all conference topics, so that attendees can use this wiki to post notes and share ideas. To participate contact or, for more information:

2. The Stop HIV Site

By visiting this site and clicking on a button, you contribute to
crucial AIDS research. Featured on "Cool Site of the Day", Stop HIV is filled with useful elements like online HIV videos, information on home HIV tests, frequently asked questions and much more. There is also a startling running tally of the number of people infected with the HI virus globally.


Recent AFRICA Reports
IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 195, 20 August 2004, 20/Aug/04
HIV-positive women speak out, 17/Aug/04
Sexual Offences bill raises many concerns, 13/Aug/04
IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 194, 13 August 2004, 13/Aug/04
Removal of generic drugs from WHO list a wake-up call, 6/Aug/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

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