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AFRICA: IRIN PlusNews HIV/AIDS Briefs, 7 August

JOHANNESBURG, 7 August 2001 (PlusNews) - CONTENTS: SOUTH AFRICA: MTCT programme set to expand ZAMBIA: Government blames food deficit on HIV/AIDS KENYA: Health official calls for HIV/AIDS tests before marriage SOUTH AFRICA: MTCT programme set to expand The mother-to-child-transmission (MTCT) programme in the Western Cape will have reached an estimated 90 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women in the province by next year, reported ‘Health-e-News’ on Monday. Dr Fareed Abdullah, deputy director-general in the province’s health department said the further roll-out for the MTCT programme had been given impetus by the decision of the Cape Town Unicity to provide additional funds for the programme. The Western Cape health department commenced its first MTCT programme in the township Khayelitsha in January 1999. After two and a half years, more than 16,000 pregnant women have attended antenatal clinics. Seventy two percent have accepted HIV testing and counselling and those testing positive (18.5 percent) were offered treatment for short course AZT commencing at 34 weeks gestation. More than 2,000 women have been treated. This year the MTCT programme using nevirapine, was implemented in the township of Gugulethu and other surrounding areas. “Our MTCT programme now reaches an estimated 50 percent of all HIV-positive pregnant women within the province,” Abdullah said. The programme will now be expanded to other maternity and antenatal clinics in the Western Cape. Abdullah said several hospitals had been tasked to handle any MTCT referrals from the clinics. Two MTCT sites, Paarl, 30 km from Cape Town and Gugulethu, will receive the nevirapine supplies from the national department of health as they are part of the national pilot programme. “The intention is to reach 100 percent coverage for the MTCT programme during the course of the 2002/3 financial year,” Abdullah said, adding that the final roll-out will start in April 2002 in the suburbs of Mitchells Plain and Mowbray. ZAMBIA: Government blames food deficit on HIV The government has blamed this year’s food shortage on the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Ministry of agriculture human resources clerk, Cleopatra Mukupa, said agriculture like any other sector has not been spared by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, reported the independent newspaper ‘The Post’ on Tuesday. Mukupa said this could be attributed to society’s negative attitude towards the use of condoms. She added that many people still believed in traditional practices like polygamy which had exposed many to HIV/AIDS. However, Mukupa said her ministry had embarked on an intensive training programme for agriculture extension workers so that they could educate the people on the dangers of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. KENYA: Health official calls for HIV/AIDS tests before marriage A government health official said on Saturday that couples should be required to take an AIDS test before getting married, Kenyan Radio reported. AIDS coordinator for Eastern Province, Hannah Malinda was quoted as saying that about half a million people in the province were living with HIV/AIDS and that the endemic had had a “severe negative socio-economic impact” on society. Embu district alone had 40,000 AIDS sufferers, she added. Minister in the Office of the President, Marsden Madoka was quoted as saying by the ‘East African Standard’ on Saturday that 20 percent of Kenyans aged between 15 and 19 were estimated to be HIV-positive

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