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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 222, 25 February 2005
Wednesday 9 March 2005
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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 222, 25 February 2005

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


SOUTH AFRICA: Monitoring ARV patients like 'working in the dark'
SOUTH AFRICA: Experts recommend HIV/AIDS prevention in treatment expansion
SOUTH AFRICA: HIV/AIDS "indirectly" responsible for increased mortality - report
GHANA: HIV care initiative ESTHER comes to town



SOUTH AFRICA: Monitoring ARV patients like 'working in the dark'

The South African government has just a month to reach its target of providing treatment to 53,000 HIV-positive people by the end of March, but only an estimated 30,000 are currently on anti-AIDS medication.

Activists have raised serious doubts about the government meeting the deadline, which was extended by a year from March 2004, and are calling for the state to accelerate its rollout.

But Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has said her primary concern is her department's ability to monitor "how all the people who are using ARVs are doing, and why some of them stop the programme".

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SOUTH AFRICA: Experts recommend HIV/AIDS prevention in treatment expansion

Although South Africa has been widely criticised for its slow rollout of anti-AIDS drugs, experts believe this presents a "unique" opportunity for government and organisations to implement HIV prevention strategies.

In their latest report, 'HIV Prevention in the Era of Expanded Treatment', the Global HIV Prevention Working Group, a panel of experts convened by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation, warns that in the absence of prevention interventions, the rapid expansion of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment could fuel the pandemic.

Drawing on the experience of industrialised nations, the group argues that readily available treatments usually also lead to increased risky sexual behaviour, as people become more complacent about the dangers of infection.

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SOUTH AFRICA: HIV/AIDS "indirectly" responsible for increased mortality - report

South Africa experienced a 57 percent jump in reported deaths between 1997 and 2003, revealing a startling - if indirect - picture of the impact of HIV/AIDS, according to Statistics SA (Stats SA).

However, officials said AIDS-related diseases, such as tuberculosis, influenza or pneumonia, were often recorded as the cause of death on the certificate, making it difficult to establish the precise level of mortality attributable to HIV/AIDS.

The long awaited study, 'Mortality and Causes of Death in South Africa', noted that in 2001 TB had claimed the lives of 37,917 people aged between 15 and 49, while HIV/AIDS had claimed only 7,564.

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GHANA: HIV-care initiative ESTHER comes to town

ESTHER, a French government initiative which helps people living with HIV/AIDS gain access to healthcare, will shortly start operating in Ghana, ESTHER chairman Bernard Kouchner said.

ESTHER (the French acronym for Working Together for Therapeutic Solidarity among Networked Hospitals) was launched in April 2002 by the French government, with the support of Spain, Italy and Luxembourg. It aims to encourage partnerships between European hospitals and healthcare facilities in developing countries, as well as providing antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to people living with AIDS.

The organisation currently operates in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Senegal, Gabon, Cote d'Ivoire and Morocco, and 10 other countries outside Africa. This is the first time it has proposed to work in an Anglophone country.

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Recent AFRICA Reports
Interview with Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director,  8/Mar/05
AIDS death toll could reach 80 million by 2025, says new report,  4/Mar/05
AIDS drug tender announcement brings glimmer of hope for HIV-positive people ,  4/Mar/05
IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 223, 4 March 2005,  4/Mar/05
Capacity shortfalls undermine roll-out,  3/Mar/05
Le portail d'informations générales de la Côte d’Ivoire
Sida Info Services
Le Fonds mondial de lutte contre le SIDA, la tuberculose et le paludisme
Le Réseau Afrique 2000

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