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AFRICA: IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 253, 30 September 2005

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


ZIMBABWE: Price of ARVs rockets in declining economy
NAMIBIA: Hope for AIDS orphans
SOUTH AFRICA: Trials test efficacy of diaphragms in preventing HIV/AIDS
SWAZILAND: Poverty-stricken AIDS widows pin hopes on new constitution
TANZANIA: 44,000 to receive ARVs by end of 2005
ZIMBABWE: Grandparents shoulder the burden of care




1. Opportunity International

ZIMBABWE: Price of ARVs rockets in declining economy

HIV-positive Zimbabweans are reeling from a dramatic increase in the price of anti-AIDS drugs, which has quadrupled the cost of the life-prolonging medication in the past three months.

In July, a month's supply of a fixed-dose combination of antiretrovirals (ARVs) went up from Zim $200,000 (US $7.70) to Zim $450,000 (US $17) and now costs up to Zim $1.2 million (US $46) in most pharmacies.

Activists have warned that in the current economic climate, these price hikes could have critical repercussions for patients on treatment.

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NAMIBIA: Hope for AIDS orphans

As the number of AIDS orphans in Namibia climbs steadily, caregivers are turning to each other for emotional support.

Once a week a group of grandmothers and foster parents meet in the shade of a tree in Katutura, a suburb of the capital, Windhoek, to share their experiences of caring for parentless children, some of whom are also infected with the HI virus.

Sixty-year-old Barbara Shiikwa was forced to provide for her seven orphaned grandchildren after three of her daughters died of AIDS-related illnesses.

"The counselling has given me hope and has helped me come to terms with the loss of my daughters. Four of my grandchildren are always sick," Shiikwa told PlusNews.

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SOUTH AFRICA: Trials test efficacy of diaphragms in preventing HIV/AIDS

Studies are being carried out in South Africa and Zimbabwe to determine whether diaphragms can help protect women against HIV/AIDS, as they bear the brunt of the pandemic.

To prove the effectiveness of diaphragms in HIV-prevention, US-based research institute Ibis Reproductive Health has initiated a number of trials in Southern Africa, called Methods for Improving Reproductive Health in Africa (MIRA).

Health experts have stressed that diaphragms would not be able to completely eliminate the risk of HIV infection.

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SWAZILAND: Poverty-stricken AIDS widows pin hopes on new constitution

A new association of widows in Swaziland hopes to raise greater awareness of the plight of women who have lost their husbands to AIDS.

"We grow in numbers daily - the epidemic is creating a nation of widows," said Lindiwe Vilakati, a member of Litsemba Lebafelokati (SiSwati for 'Hope of the Widows') Association.

"In a sense, we are the worst sufferers of AIDS," said the chairwoman, Nonhlanhla Nene. "The main activity of our association thus far has been the burial of our members."

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TANZANIA: 44,000 to receive ARVs by end of 2005

The government of Tanzania plans to have at least 44,000 people infected with HIV/AIDS on antiretroviral treatment (ARVs) by the end of 2005, President Benjamin Mkapa said on Sunday.

This figure, he said, represented some 10 percent of the actual number of those in need of ARVs.

Speaking at the general meeting of Churches United Against HIV and AIDS in Southern and Eastern Africa in Dar es Salaam, Mkapa however warned that easy access to treatment and drugs should not encourage a jaded mentality towards sex and AIDS.

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ZIMBABWE: Grandparents shoulder the burden of care

Ndanda Ncube wakes up every morning to do the household chores, gather some firewood and feed his six grandchildren. At 80, Ncube should be settling into retirement but the HIV/AIDS pandemic has brought a new burden of responsibilities.

As a growing number of children lose their parents to AIDS, traditional family safety nets have been overwhelmed and orphan care has largely fallen to grandparents. The government estimates that the HIV/AIDS epidemic has orphaned over one million children.

A visit by PlusNews to Emphandeni in Mangwe district, about 150 kilometres northeast of Bulawayo, revealed the desperation that AIDS has etched on the face of many rural communities.

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1. Opportunity International

Opportunity International works with local partner organisations in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America to provide small business loans, training, and advice to half a million clients. As part of the Emergency Plan, Opportunity International will partner with Habitat for Humanity International under the 'Sustainable Income and Housing for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Africa' project to care for orphans and vulnerable children in Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia. Drawing upon combined experience and indigenous networks, the programme will provide: microfinance services to families caring for orphans and vulnerable children; training for orphans and vulnerable children to take over businesses if their parents die; home construction for AIDS-affected communities; training in HIV/AIDS services, financial planning and property inheritance; and a pilot programme linking older orphans with mentors who will teach them a trade. Over five years, the project will serve 54,400 orphans and vulnerable children, and provide HIV/AIDS education and training to 64,000 providers and caregivers.

To access the website:


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