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Wednesday 21 December 2005
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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 249, 3 September 2005


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


NEWS:

GHANA: Government ploughs ahead with plans to produce AIDS drugs locally
NIGERIA: Activists press govt to provide free ARVs
SOUTH AFRICA: Durban AIDS vaccine trial site to close down
ZAMBIA: Civic groups call on MPs to be more proactive in HIV/AIDS fight
ZIMBABWE: Community-based counsellors are making a difference

CONFERENCES/ EVENTS/ RESEARCH/ RESOURCES:



GHANA: Government ploughs ahead with plans to produce AIDS drugs locally

A new plant has begun production of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs as part of government plans to expand distribution of the life-prolonging treatment for its HIV-positive citizens.

Pharmaceutical company DanAdams - a joint venture between Danpong Pharmaceuticals of Ghana and Adams Pharmaceuticals of China - has begun production of the generic versions of ARVs at a new plant outside the capital, Accra.

Generic drugs are not restricted by patent laws but are identical in content and substantially cheaper than the brand-name drugs, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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NIGERIA: Activists press govt to provide free ARVs

Activist pressure on the Nigerian government to provide free HIV/AIDS treatment and care is mounting.

The government offers subsidised antiretroviral (ARV) medication for 1,000 naira (US $7), but HIV-positive patients also spend an estimated 42,000 Naira ($320) annually on regular laboratory tests, treating opportunistic infections and transport to health centres.

At the country's first HIV/AIDS Treatment Summit, held recently in the capital, Abuja, activists called for ARVs, diagnosis, laboratory monitoring, management of opportunistic infections and nutritional support for HIV-positive people to be provided free of charge.

The Treatment Action Movement (TAM) is expected to meet again this week in Abuja to press for free treatment, which it insists should be granted if the government is really committed to its anti-HIV/AIDS campaign.

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SOUTH AFRICA: Durban AIDS vaccine trial site to close down

A donor decision not to renew funding has led to the closure of an AIDS vaccine trial site in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, the South African province hardest hit by the epidemic.

Although some researchers have attributed the closure of the trial site run by the South African Medical Research Council (MRC) to the low numbers of volunteers, the MRC stressed that the decision had nothing to do with recruitment of volunteers or the quality of research.

Dr Andrew Robinson, head of the MRC HIV vaccine unit, told PlusNews that the trial site's funding cycle had simply come to an end after five years, and was possibly not being renewed because its core funder, the US-based National Institutes of Health (NIH), preferred to invest in larger, multipurpose vaccine research sites.

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ZAMBIA: Civic groups call on MPs to be more proactive in HIV/AIDS fight

Zambia's civil society groups are targeting parliamentarians, urging them to step up efforts to curb the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Advocacy groups point out that members of parliament (MPs) are in an ideal position to help eradicate stigma and discrimination, as they could influence their constituents.

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ZIMBABWE: Community-based counsellors are making a difference

In an attempt to reduce the psychosocial impact of the AIDS epidemic, Zimbabwean communities have started an innovative community-based counselling initiative across the country.

Until recently it was inconceivable for 48 year-old Mildred Mutumwapavi of Zaka District to talk openly about the HIV/AIDS in the community, let alone regularly visit and counsel people living with and affected by the disease. But her attitude has changed: not only is she a trained community counsellor, she is also active in Zaka district, some 370 km southeast of the capital, Harare.

"It was taboo to talk about AIDS, but it was even more difficult to talk to people infected or even affected by the disease - it was as if you were afraid that the disease would rub on. Most of the time you would see friends and relatives wasting away, grieving and lonely, but there was nothing you could do about it; instead, you kept your distance," Mutumwapavi told PlusNews.

More details

[ENDS]




 
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