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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 223, 4 March 2005
Sunday 13 March 2005
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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 223, 4 March 2005


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


NEWS:

AFRICA: AIDS death toll could reach 80 million by 2025 - report
ANGOLA: Govt must act now on AIDS, warns UN envoy
BOTSWANA: Miss Stigma Free 2005 crowned
CHAD: HIV free certificates on sale to woo girls and get loans
NIGERIA: Authorities predict 250,000 people on ARVs by mid-2006
SOUTH AFRICA: Capacity shortfalls undermine rollout
SWAZILAND: Humanitarian crisis worsening, warn relief agencies

CONFERENCES/ EVENTS/ RESEARCH/ RESOURCES:

JOB OPPORTUNITIES:



AFRICA: AIDS death toll could reach 80 million by 2025 - report

More than 80 million people living in Africa could die from AIDS by 2025 unless concerted actions are taken that could save some of these lives, a new report by UNAIDS said on Friday.

Entitled, 'AIDS in Africa: Three scenarios to 2025', the report paints a bleak picture of the impact of HIV on the continent. It gives a detailed glimpse into the epidemic over a 20-year period and outlines three different scenarios.

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ANGOLA: Govt must act now on AIDS, warns UN envoy

Angola will have to make an epic effort in both preventing and treating HIV/AIDS-related illnesses if it is to escape the dismal fate of many of its neighbours, a senior UN official told PlusNews.

Stephen Lewis, Kofi Annan's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, spoke to PlusNews after spending a week in the southwest African country which, ironically, thanks to its 27-year civil war, has the lowest infection rate in the region.

"Angola is at the moment on the knife's edge - Angola will either plunge into the abyss of the devastation of the pandemic, or Angola will undertake a Herculean prevention effort and keep the prevalence rate low," Lewis told PlusNews.

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BOTSWANA: Miss Stigma Free 2005 crowned

An elated 22-year-old AIDS activist, Cynthia Leshomo, was crowned Miss Stigma Free 2005 at a glittering event on Saturday at Botswana's Gaborone International Convention Centre.

About 500 people attended the gala evening with the theme 'Down with stigma, Down with discrimination', which was broadcast live on television.

Dressed to kill in a flowing floral evening gown, a glamorous Leshomo looked every inch a winner - a far cry from the stereotypical image of a person living with the virus.

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CHAD: HIV free certificates on sale to woo girls and get loans

Chadian men wanting to chat up the girls or boost their credit rating are turning to fake certificates to prove they are not HIV-positive, to improve their chances with potential partners and private moneylenders.

Paul, a teacher in a secondary school in Chad's capital, N'djamena, has done just that. Last month he got a phoney certificate showing he was HIV-negative without stepping inside a testing centre.

"I use it to seduce women and buy goods at the shop on credit while I'm waiting for the end of the month," Paul told PlusNews, saying he had got the precious pass from a relative who works at a testing centre. "When they see this, people trust me."

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NIGERIA: Authorities predict 250,000 people on ARVs by mid-2006

The Nigerian government has said it aims to quadruple the number of people on antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) by mid-2006, enabling up to 250,000 HIV-positive people receive the medication.

"With grants from the Global Fund, the US President's Initiative (PEPFAR), the World Bank and the federal government, our projection is that we'll be able to treat 250,000 people by June 2006," Babatunde Osotimehin, the head of Nigeria's National Action Committee on AIDS (NACA), told PlusNews.

The target was first announced at a press conference last week, at the end of a visit to Nigeria by Richard Feachem, the director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

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SOUTH AFRICA: Capacity shortfalls undermine rollout

A lack of capacity in South Africa's healthcare system is a serious challenge to the government's plan to roll out a free treatment programme for its HIV-positive citizens, a European Union (EU) official told PlusNews.

According to Ian Ralph, health advisor to the European Commission in South Africa, the slow pace of providing free antiretroviral (ARV) drugs was in some instances for "very good reasons", as health systems remained under-resourced, causing a "major operational problem".

Having drafted a "sound and sustainable" strategy to treat people living with the virus, the government would have to "radically restructure" its health system to successfully implement the programme, he added.

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SWAZILAND: Humanitarian crisis worsening, warn relief agencies

Relief agencies have warned that the humanitarian crisis in Swaziland, brought on by drought and aggravated by AIDS, is worsening.

"The food insecurity situation is going to continue for the next 12 months - people are not producing enough. Many sectors of the population, especially the elderly, will remain dependent on food aid," Abdoulaye Balde, country representative of the UN World Food Programme, (WFP) told PlusNews.

Balde was part of a high-powered delegation of representatives from the government, UN agencies and NGOs, who visited drought-stricken eastern and southern Swaziland last week. The country is experiencing its fourth consecutive year of drought.

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[ENDS]


 
Recent AFRICA Reports
Sensitising programme delivers positive results,  11/Mar/05
Working to reduce the HIV/AIDS risk for migrant women,  11/Mar/05
IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 224, 11 March 2005,  11/Mar/05
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
Links
AIDS Media Center
Le portail d'informations générales de la Côte d’Ivoire
VIH Internet
Sida Info Services
Aides

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