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IRIN PlusNews Weekly Issue 279, 14 April 2006


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


NEWS:

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Leaders commit to stepping up HIV/AIDS prevention
ZIMBABWE: Adult population to die before age 40, says UN report
NAMIBIA: HIV/AIDS brings change in Himba communities
SUDAN: War-scarred south ill-equipped to deal with HIV/AIDS
SUDAN: Returning refugees face new challenges in unprepared south
SOMALIA: Fighting HIV in a chronic emergency

EVENTS:

JOBS:



SOUTHERN AFRICA: Leaders commit to stepping up HIV/AIDS prevention

An initiative by African governments to step up the pace of HIV prevention was launched on Tuesday at four simultaneous events across the continent.

African health ministers designated 2006 as the 'Year for Accelerating Access to HIV Prevention' at a meeting in Maputo last August.

At the Southern African launch, South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang described the purpose of the campaign as "to ensure that prevention reassumes its rightful position as the mainstay of the global response to HIV and AIDS", and noted that treatment efforts had tended to overshadow prevention, with the result that "prevention became the forgotten child of the HIV and AIDS response".

More details



ZIMBABWE: Adult population to die before age 40, says UN report

Zimbabwean women have the shortest lifespan in the world, according to a new report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Neither men nor women in one of the world's fastest shrinking economies are expected to reach the age of 40, according to the 'World Health Report 2006', based on the statistics for 2004.

Since the 2005 report, based on the figures for 2003, life expectancy for both sexes has plunged by two years: Zimbabwe's women now have an average lifespan of 34 years, the lowest in the world; that of men is 37 years.

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NAMIBIA: HIV/AIDS brings change in Himba communities

Namibia's pastoral Himba community has largely remained separate from the rest of Namibian society, but NGOs warn that their cultural practices and isolation from HIV/AIDS prevention efforts could heighten their vulnerability to the virus.

"Faithfulness to one partner is unheard of to the Himba," said Kakarandua Mutambo, the Red Cross Society manager of the Kunene region in northern Namibia, as she explained the difficulties AIDS workers faced in accessing the group.

The Himba are also outside the mainstream in terms of education and healthcare. According to Kunene's Regional AIDS Coordinating Committee, at 13 percent the region has the lowest prevalence rate in Namibia. Nevertheless, there has been a significant increase: in 1998 HIV prevalence stood at just six percent.

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SUDAN: War-scarred south ill-equipped to deal with HIV/AIDS

Southern Sudan, slowly emerging from a 21-year civil war that left it bereft of even the most basic services, is waking up to the reality of HIV/AIDS in a population with little awareness and few prevention and care mechanisms in place.

Sheila Mangan, an HIV AIDS officer for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) based in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, fears HIV infection rates could "explode" in the region as a result of low levels of awareness among the population.

"It is so hard to disseminate information when literacy levels are so low, and there is a complete lack of radio and television," she commented. "This is a disease nobody believes they can get."

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SUDAN: Returning refugees face new challenges in unprepared south

In a crumbling hospital building, pock-marked by bullet holes, Dr Agot Alier Leek admits that he doesn't know the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the war-scarred garrison town of Bor in southern Sudan.

"We believe the figure is very low, but it is guesswork based on the fact that our out-patient department has recorded no case of HIV/AIDS," said Leek, the Minister of Health for Jonglei State. "This does not mean it is not there, but you know the communities here are traditional, so they try and hide it from the authorities."

Compared to the high HIV/AIDS prevalence in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya and Uganda, the infection rate in southern Sudan is estimated at 2.3 percent, according to a report by the UN Population Fund.

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SOMALIA: Fighting HIV in a chronic emergency

Severe food shortages and continuing conflict in large parts of war-scarred Somalia have stretched people's coping strategies to breaking point, but for those who are HIV positive every day brings another struggle to survive.

"The country is in the grip of a severe drought at the moment, which means millions of Somalis are going without food - they have to move from place to place with their animals to find pasture and water," said Ulrike Gilbert, HIV project officer for the Somalia office of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

More details

[ENDS]




 
Recent SOUTHERN AFRICA Reports
Hitting the target? New study explores HIV/AIDS information needs,  1/Dec/06
HIV/AIDS threatening life expectancy - UN report,  9/Nov/06
Red Cross launches biggest ever AIDS appeal,  1/Nov/06
Emergency plan to counter deadly TB stain,  18/Oct/06
Red Cross and Red Crescent HIV/AIDS Global Alliance launches new initiative ,  11/Oct/06
Links
· AIDS Media Center
· The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
· International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
· AEGIS
· International HIV/AIDS Alliance


PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.


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