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Wednesday 21 December 2005
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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 250, 9 September 2005


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


NEWS:

AFRICA: Donation drought at Global Fund replenishment conference
SOUTH AFRICA: Virginity testing - absence of a small tissue becomes big issue
SOUTHERN AFRICA: HIV/AIDS eroding region's development, says UN report
SUDAN: Trying to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS
SWAZILAND: HIV-positive children more vulnerable to chickenpox
ZAMBIA: Agencies step in to address HIV/AIDS in prisons
ZIMBABWE: Villagers respond to AIDS orphans crisis

CONFERENCES/ EVENTS/ RESEARCH/ RESOURCES:

JOB OPPORTUNITIES:



AFRICA: Donation drought at Global Fund replenishment conference

As the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria ended its first replenishment conference this week, the uncertainty under which the Fund operates has once again become a cause for concern among activists.

International donors on Tuesday pledged US $3.7 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria - slightly more than half the $7.1 billion needed for the next two years.

The Global Fund met donors to discuss funding needs at a replenishment meeting held in London, England. This was the first time the body had attempted the process, seen as a way of making donor contributions more systematic and allowing the Fund more planning for future grants, Global Fund communications officer Rosie Vanek told PlusNews.

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SOUTH AFRICA: Virginity testing - absence of a small tissue becomes big issue

This weekend, thousands of Zulu maidens will make their way to Nongoma in northern KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Province, to participate in 'Umhlanga', the annual reed dance ceremony celebrating virginity.

The traditional gathering takes place in the wake of controversy surrounding the soon-to-be-outlawed testing of virgins: the Children's Bill was approved by parliament in July 2005 and, if passed by the National Council of Provinces, the legislation will impose an outright ban on the custom.

Nomagugu Ngobese, founder of the Nomkhubulwane Culture and Youth Development Organisation, is an angry woman. One of the more prominent virginity testers, Ngobese has spent the last seven years advocating the practice, and considers herself a "professional".

"They are trying to ban our culture, religion - but it's not going to work. I'll never stop; the day I stop is when they [young girls] stop coming to me," she said.

Two weeks before the reed dance ceremony, they were still making their way to Ngobese.

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SOUTHERN AFRICA: HIV/AIDS eroding region's development, says UN report

HIV/AIDS has accounted for huge reversals in human development in Southern Africa, which could impact on the region meeting some of the UN's poverty-slashing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to a new report.

The UN's '2005 Human Development Report', released on Wednesday, noted that 12 of the 18 countries that have suffered development reversals between 1990 and 2003 were in sub-Saharan Africa, with Southern Africa "hit hardest".

South Africa has plunged by 35 places to 120 on the global Human Development Index (HDI), Zimbabwe by 23 and Botswana 21 places. Reversals were also noted for Lesotho, Swaziland and Zambia. The HDI, which ranks 167 countries, focuses on three measurable dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life; being educated; and having a decent standard of living.

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SUDAN: Trying to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS

Asha Ebrahim, a mother of eight living in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, vividly remembers the day she first learned she was HIV-positive seven years ago.

"When the doctor told me that I had the disease, I fell down. When I went home, I closed the door and stayed inside for three days," she told IRIN.

One of an estimated 600,000 people in Sudan living with HIV/AIDS, Ebrahim contracted the condition through a blood transfusion following a minor surgery.

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SWAZILAND: HIV-positive children more vulnerable to chickenpox

An upsurge in chickenpox among Swazi children and adults is being blamed on a rise in HIV/AIDS in a country with one of the world's highest HIV infection rates.

"Chickenpox is a relatively mild childhood disease, but once contracted it will remain with the child for the rest of his or her life. If the child is HIV-positive, it becomes more serious," said Ministry of Health worker Julie Dlamini.

"What is worrisome about the disease for people of all ages is that, unlike AIDS, which can be contracted only through sexual intercourse with an infected person or the sharing of bodily fluids, chickenpox can be caught merely through close contact with an infected person," Dlamini explained.

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ZAMBIA: Agencies step in to address HIV/AIDS in prisons

Prison walls have not insulated inmates from the effects of Zambia's HIV/AIDS pandemic, aid workers warn.

Prisoners are rendered vulnerable due to overcrowding, poor nutrition, limited access to healthcare, injecting drug use, unsafe sex and tattooing, according to government officials and NGOs.

According to the Zambia Prisons Service (ZPS), last year about 450 inmates in the 52 prisons across the country died from HIV/AIDS-related illnesses.

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ZIMBABWE: Villagers respond to AIDS orphans crisis

Five years ago, the residents of Majini village, about 90 km from the southern border town of Beitbridge, Zimbabwe, were reluctant to talk about HIV/AIDS - now they are planning a vegetable garden to support AIDS orphans and other families affected by the disease.

"The growing number of AIDS orphans in the area made the villagers sit up and look for solutions," said Reverend Musa Makulubane at the local church, which has been proactive in trying to get residents to adopt a more responsive stance to HIV/AIDS.

In a village with a population of just over 5,000 there are about 50 AIDS orphans that the local clinic is aware of, said Tiwejuliet Mpofu, a nurse who helps run the HIV/AIDS unit. But according to villagers, the number of children affected by the disease runs into at least a thousand.

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[ENDS]




 
Recent AFRICA Reports
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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 264, 16 December 2005,  16/Dec/05
Children suffer despite growing humanitarian efforts - UNICEF,  15/Dec/05
New drugs urgently needed,  14/Dec/05
Effective AIDS response needs more than abstinence,  9/Dec/05
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