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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 259, 11 November 2005

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


AFRICA: Looming AZT shortage could cut availability
BOTSWANA: Baby steps in bringing down teen pregnancy
SWAZILAND: New law says death to child rapists in fight against AIDS
UGANDA: Global fund lifts ban on AIDS grants



AFRICA: Looming AZT shortage could cut availability of anti-AIDS drugs

Despite a surge in demand for the anti-AIDS drug AZT, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is not increasing production - a decision that could have critical repercussions for thousands of HIV-positive Africans.

According to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), an NGO running free treatment clinics in developing countries, 8,000 Zambians could soon be forced to find alternative antiretroviral treatment (ART) to their current medication from GSK.

"Continuous supply of drugs is essential and ... [being without stock] is a serious concern for treatment," said AHF President Michael Weinstein at a press conference Thursday.

The shortage is expected to affect patients in Africa and other parts of the developing world currently on drug regimens containing AZT.

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BOTSWANA: Baby steps in bringing down teen pregnancy

In the last two weeks, Kebogo Kesenye, a social worker at a community clinic in Bontleng, a poor township in Gaborone, Botswana's capital, has seen and counselled three pregnant teenagers.

"All were pregnant by older men, all were deserted by the men, and one man is married," said Kesenye. "We have lots of such cases here."

This is borne out in the findings of the Ministry of Health's Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Implementation Strategy 2003, which commented: "A very small number (of teenage pregnancies) is [caused] by peers."

The good news, however, is that teenage pregnancy rates are declining. In 1996, six out of 10 teenage girls had been pregnant at least once, but only two out of 10 in 2003, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

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SWAZILAND: New law says death to child rapists in fight against AIDS

In response to growing alarm over Swaziland's HIV infection rate, a draft law proposing the death penalty for child rape and the intentional transmission of the virus was released this week.

"Any person who is convicted of rape under this bill is liable to the death penalty if the victim is below the age of 14 years, or to the death penalty if HIV and AIDS are an aggravating factor, or to the death penalty where such person has parental power over the child," reads the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill of 2005.

The death penalty proposed in the bill for fathers or guardians who rape and infect children in their charge with HIV is in response to widely reported incidents of AIDS-related incest.

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UGANDA: Global fund lifts ban on AIDS grants

Uganda on Friday welcomed the release of a grant package worth US $367 million from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which the organisation suspended last August amid allegations of mismanagement.

The grants were frozen following an independent audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the local fund agent for Uganda, which discovered incidents of inadequate monitoring and accounting of expenditures for one of Uganda's grants to combat HIV. Funding for life-preserving activities, however, was maintained throughout the suspension period.

On Thursday, the Global Fund announced that it had lifted its suspension of aid to Uganda following what it called the country's "intensive efforts" to rectify "serious mismanagement" of funding.

The package includes two grants to combat HIV/AIDS, two grants targeting malaria and one grant for tuberculosis.

"Over the past two months, the Global Fund has been heartened by the intensive efforts of our partners in Uganda," said executive director Richard Feachem. "We are very pleased that the progress made enables us to lift the suspension of Uganda's grants."

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Recent AFRICA Reports
Govt adopts more focused approach to help orphans,  21/Feb/06
IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 271, 17 February 2006,  17/Feb/06
Armed forces to tackle impact of HIV/AIDS,  13/Feb/06
IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 270, 10 February 2006,  10/Feb/06
Year in Review 2005 - Uneven progress in treatment provision,  3/Feb/06
· AIDS Media Center
· The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
· International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
· International HIV/AIDS Alliance

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