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Tuesday 1 November 2005
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COTE D IVOIRE: US gives $42 million to help fight against AIDS

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


ABIDJAN, 16 June (PLUSNEWS) - The United States said on Thursday it would give US $42 million to Cote d’Ivoire this year to help fight HIV/AIDS in the war-divided nation.

The money, from the President's Emergency Fund For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), will be spent on a wide range of initiatives from opening new clinics for sex workers to rolling out a school curriculum that includes talking about the disease.

The ultimate aim is to prevent 265,000 new infections by 2010, treat 77,000 Ivorians already living with HIV by 2008 and help care for 385,000 children left orphaned or vulnerable by AIDS, also by 2008.

“It’s not just about working on small, individual projects. The resources are great enough to allow us to scale up,” Monica Nolan, the US technical coordinator of PEPFAR in Cote d'Ivoire, told IRIN.

“We are interested not just in having a really good project in one city but in how it can be replicated across the country. We are looking at building up sustainable networks,” she said.

PEPFAR aims to pump US $15 billion into combating AIDS worldwide over a five-year period.

The programme allocated US $24.3 million to Cote d'Ivoire in 2004. Nolan said that following this year's much larger grant there could be more money in the pipeline.

"It's results orientated, so if we get the results we will get more resources in the future," she said.

Cote d’Ivoire, which has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in West Africa, is one of 15 countries singled out for special focus under the PEPFAR scheme.

The latest figures from UNAIDS put the prevalence rate in the world’s top cocoa grower at seven percent, although some aid workers believe it is much higher, especially in the rebel-held north and the volatile west, where medical services have virtually collapsed.

The country has been divided into a government-run south and a rebel-held north since a civil war broke out three years ago and this throws up some unique problems.

Thousands of health care workers and teachers in the north fled south when the conflict erupted in September 2002 and have yet to return to their posts.

“The complicating factor to working in the north is partly access and partly because we do not have the health and education sectors substantially deployed,” Nolan explained.

Wherever they go, AIDS campaigners must also cope with a strong military presence. This not only takes the form of government soldiers and rebel fighters. Cote d'Ivoire is also full of self-styled militiamen who are often a law unto themselves.

“In Cote d’Ivoire there are a lot of men in uniforms and men with guns that are mobile, separated from their partners and with a higher income than those around them. There’s a lot of transactional sex, whether it’s for money or soap, and that’s a big factor for transmission,” Nolan said.

Some of the new funding will be used to open two confidential clinics for sex workers, adding to three already established with US assistance in the de facto capital Abidjan and the western port city of San Pedro.

Nolan said 8,000 people a year visit the three clinics. The two extra sites should become operational before the end of this year at locations as yet to be determined.

Another key aspect of the fight against AIDS that will benefit from US funding is prevention through education.

“The rate of pregnancies in schools and sexually transmitted infections has increased dramatically since the crisis,” Nolan explained. “We’re working with the Ministry of Education to develop a Life Skills curriculum to look at healthy living.”


Recent COTE D IVOIRE Reports
Truckers in volatile west are taking more HIV/AIDS precautions,  3/Oct/05
MSF launches AIDS treatment programme in conflict hotspots,  15/Jun/05
Muslims seek to break down prejudice by speaking out on HIV/AIDS,  17/May/05
The positive results of disclosure,  10/May/05
Doctor concerned by high HIV prevalence rate in forgotten northeast,  15/Mar/05
AIDS Media Center
Le portail d'informations générales de la Côte d’Ivoire
VIH Internet
Sida Info Services

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