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Wednesday 22 February 2006
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ETHIOPIA: Nationwide HIV/AIDS hotline launched


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


ADDIS ABABA, 14 March (PLUSNEWS) - A new HIV/AIDS hotline was launched in Ethiopia on Thursday, to provide accurate information, counselling and free referrals to callers across the country.

"We are now receiving 1,800 calls on average every day since the hotline became available nationwide on 10 March," Gashaw Mengistu, the coordinator of the facility, told PlusNews from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

He said a campaign would be launched to promote the hotline on radio and television, which would hopefully encourage many more people to use the service.

Dubbed the "Wegen AIDS Talkline", the service will provide a range of information, including the location of testing centres, ways to prevent mother-to-child transmission and treatment options such as anti-retroviral therapy.

The hotline is supported by the United States and two Ethiopian bodies: the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office (HAPCO), and the Ethiopian Telecommunication Cooperation.

Dialling 952 from any landline in the country will connect to the service, which has been operating in the Addis Ababa region under a pilot scheme since December 2004.

During the three-month testing phase, counsellors working at the hotline were closely supervised to ensure the quality of service offered. Support materials have been tested and revised as needed, according to statement issued by the talkline.

Ethiopia's AIDS Resource Centre runs the facility which was set up by Johns Hopkins University through its Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Communication Programs.

"It will have a great impact considering that there is a lot of stigma attached to HIV/AIDS in the country and many people are not discussing the issue at home. There is nothing comparable to it," said Gashaw.

Ato Negatu Mereke, the head of HAPCO, said "the hotline can be an alternative source of confidential and anonymous counselling, and support for those infected and affected by the disease."

According to Ethiopian government figures, around 1.5 million people in the country have been infected with HIV. Some 12.6 percent of those are in urban areas. The national prevalence rate is 4.4 percent.

[ENDS]




 
Recent ETHIOPIA Reports
Nearly half of the children orphaned by HIV/AIDS,  25/Oct/05
UNICEF receives Sweden's donation for AIDS orphans,  12/Sep/05
Expanded health coverage plan launched,  24/May/05
Serious challenges facing HIV/AIDS fight - US report,  15/Apr/05
New strategy launched to combat HIV/AIDS,  24/Jan/05
Links
· AIDS Media Center
· The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
· International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
· AEGIS
· International HIV/AIDS Alliance


PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.


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