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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 195, 20 August 2004
Monday 11 October 2004
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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 195, 20 August 2004

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


SOUTH AFRICA: HIV-positive women speak out
UGANDA: A new hope for orphans
ZIMBABWE: Tackling the impact of customs on AIDS




SOUTH AFRICA: HIV-positive women speak out

As part of the Women's Month celebrations in South Africa, a "Day of Hope" was held at Pinetown in KwaZulu-Natal province to tell the stories of three HIV-positive women who are living proof that "there is a life after HIV".

Women are among the hardest-hit by the epidemic - the South African Medical Research Council estimates that the HIV prevalence rate amongst women in KwaZulu-Natal ranges between 37 percent and 47 percent.

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UGANDA: A new hope for orphans

Paul Esonu, 20, was only seven when he ran away from his abusive parents. "That was the worst time in my life," he said of the seven years he lived on the streets of Kampala and Jinja in Uganda.

Esonu ate from rubbish bins, sniffed glue to ward off cold and hunger and was beaten up by police. Shopping arcade guards denied him shelter on rainy nights, and he was sexually abused by older men and women who paid with either food or money.

His nightmare is over, but for many others it is only just the beginning. Uganda's devastating mix of civil war, HIV/AIDS and poverty has resulted in growing numbers of vulnerable children.

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ZIMBABWE: Tackling the impact of customs on AIDS

Traditional practices of polygamy, virginity testing and 'kugara nhaka' (wife inheritance), inhibit women's control over their bodies and increase vulnerability to HIV infection, but activists are split on the best way to tackle the customs.

The Girl Child Network (GCN) believes in empowering girls to resist virginity testing. Other advocacy groups favour tighter legislation against high-risk behaviour performed "in the name of culture". Still others believe in empowering women to make informed decisions within the context of traditional culture, given the hostility of many community leaders to attempts to tamper with custom.

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A personal account of being HIV-positive by PlusNews journalist Hayden Horner.

"From past experience I have learnt that disclosure is not as easy as it sounds. I have seen emotions change from hot and wanton to cold and distant in the blink of an eye at the mention of my HIV status.

"I will not put myself through that rejection again. At least not for a casual encounter. And I refuse to feel guilty for enjoying something as natural as sex, even when I have not disclosed," writes Hayden.

The journal is not part of the emailed services provided by PlusNews, and is only available on the PlusNews website


Recent AFRICA Reports
HIV/AIDS remains a big child killer,  8/Oct/04
IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 202, 8 October 2004,  8/Oct/04
HIV/AIDS care centre not being fully utilised,  8/Oct/04
Using theatre to encourage HIV testing,  6/Oct/04
Vaccine research struggles to find trial participants,  5/Oct/04
Sida Info Services
Le Fonds mondial de lutte contre le SIDA, la tuberculose et le paludisme
Le Réseau Afrique 2000

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.


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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