Forum No. Subject URL
AIDS Kills Some 2,880 Tanzanian Teachers PPF_News/News_Details.
2 Secret tour of Zimbabwean wards shows http://www.ezilon.com/infor
AF-AIDS collapse of health system mation/article_3101.shtml
Thou Shalt Not Condomise w_nota.asp?idnews=28101
Secrets and Silence Around AIDS w_nota.asp?idnews=28068
As AIDS toll rises, humanity endures Time up for link
Vacancy: Director of Policy & http://www.comminit.com/v
Research REPORT OF THE COMMISSION FOR
Late developers' sex risk warning ealth/4393113.stm
IPM, the Global Campaign for Microbicide http://www.ipm-
2 and the Alliance for Microbicide Development microbicides.org/publicatio
issue a call to the G8 leaders ns/g8_031505.cfm
New Web site for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria Cross posting from
Partners GF 1
Government Shows Signs of Acknowledging d547-4859-9f15-
Country's AIDS Epidemic b22516631bfc.html
2 Aids Virus Destroys Immune Cells Fast- dlineplus/news/fullstory_23
Uganda’s official “AB” policy 8378371
Russia Slashes AIDS Treatment Costs by http://www.aegis.com/news
More than Two- Thirds /ads/2005/AD050606.html
1 World Bank OKs $35 mil. grant to Vietnam to /050330/kyodo/d8953ko80.
fight HIV/AIDS html
AIDS, terrorism, debts top IPU agenda d=32290
Sex Work 1
USAID Launches $13Million Project PPF_News/News_Details.
HIV/AIDS in Uzbekistan asp?ID=4294
Date Source of Also relevant for
CDC Prevention News
via International Planned
(IPPF) 003 PWHA-Net
30-Mar-05 Ezilon Infobase ProCAARE,
31-Mar-05 Inter Press Service (IPS)
29-Mar-05 Inter Press Service (IPS)
27-Mar-05 The Birmingham News
International Council of
AIDS Service 016
Commission For Africa 017 AF-AIDS
31-Mar-05 BBC News
for Microbicides (IPM)
Radio Free Europe,
31-Mar-05 Radio Liberty (RFE/RL
28-Mar-05 Reuters Health via
Medline Plus 015
Human Rights Watch
Agence France Presse
via AEGIS 002 PWHA-Net
30-Mar-05 Yahoo News
02-Apr-05 Inquirer News Service
Kaiser Network via
International Planned ProCAARE,
Parenthood Federation PWHA-Net, Stop
(IPPF) 004 TB
Late developers' sex risk warning
Late developers may be more vulnerable to high risk sexually transmitted diseases, research suggests.
The risk of being infected seems to be more closely linked to the age a person reaches sexual maturity than
starting to have sex when young.
The researchers, from the University of Manchester, believe that girls who mature early may be protected to
some extent by their hormones.
Details are published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections. The researchers studied 127 young women
from three sexual health clinics.
All of them had started having periods within the preceding five years or were aged 17 years and under. The
women were screened for genital infections, including chlamydia, human papillomavirus (HPV) and bacterial
Almost two thirds of the young women tested positive for HPV - half of which were the high risk types associated
with the development of cervical cancer. Over half of those infected with HPV had at least one other infection.
About one in four tested positive for chlamydia, which is associated with infertility.
The researchers found that specific behaviour patterns had specific effects on particular infections. A recent new
partner or use of a condom was associated with a lower risk of chlamydial infection, while the use of emergency
contraception doubled the risk. Sex during a period also increased the risk of bacterial vaginosis, while smoking
conferred protection against HPV. But sexual maturity had a significant impact on all three infections.
More sexually mature women were significantly less likely to have any of the infections. The association held
good even after other factors, such as number of sexual partners were taken into account.
The researchers believe the key may be that girls who reach sexual maturity early have high levels of the female
sex hormone oestrogen. Researcher Dr Loretta Brabin said this might help to reduce the risk of infection by
accelerating physical development.
There are a number of defence mechanisms which are mobilised when a woman becomes sexually mature.
The production of cervical mucus can help block infections from penetrating the cells of the vagina and cervix,
while the environment in the vagina becomes more acidic and thus less hospitable to infections.
In addition, cells from the cervix, called columnar cells, which protrude down into the vagina before sexual
maturity and which are particularly vulnerable to infections such as chlamydia, mature and lose their vulnerability.
Dr Brabin told the BBC News website: "Our findings dispel the myth that vulnerability to sexual infection is all
about the age of onset of sexual activity and high risk behaviour."
But she stressed no young woman should indulge in risky sexual behaviour - particularly as this research
suggested they were more likely to contract multiple sexual infections.
Dr Simon Barton, of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said the risk of contracting a sexually
transmitted infection were influenced by a number of factors, including a person's genetic make up and whether
they already had other infections.
He added it was "important that young women entering a new relationship do emphasise the use of
Source: BBC News
Date: 31 March 2005
Online at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4393113.stm
Russia Slashes AIDS Treatment Costs by More than Two- Thirds
On Wednesday in Moscow, Health Minister Mikhail Zurabov said Russia has cut the annual per-patient cost of
AIDS drug treatment from $10,000 to $3,000 as a result of successful negotiations with international drug
makers. "We are counting on reducing the costs to between $1,400 and $1,700," Zurabov said at an international
meeting on the epidemic, according to RIA Novosti news agency.
HIV/AIDS is much more than a health issue, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said: "In the current
demographic situation it has become a question of strategic, social, and economic security."
Experts estimate that the actual number of HIV-infected Russians is at least three times higher than the official
figure of 305,000 people. Warning of the "severe economic consequences" of the epidemic, World Bank Vice
President Jean- Louis Sarbib said that in five years, Russia's gross domestic product could be 4.5 percent less
than if AIDS did not exist. The World Bank has predicted that without concerted government action, Russia's HIV
cases could total 2.3 million by 2010 and 5.4 million by 2020.
Source: Agence France Presse via AEGIS
Date: 31 March 2005
Online at: http://www.aegis.com/news/ads/2005/AD050606.html
AIDS Kills Some 2,880 Tanzanian Teachers Annually
Tanzania is losing some 2,880 teachers to HIV/AIDS every year, said Education Minister, Joseph Mungai. The
majority of the country's 155,000 teachers, who comprise nearly 50 per cent of all government employees live in
rural areas where access to condoms and anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs is limited.
Mungai said he has given the Tanzania AIDS Commission proposals to distribute condoms to isolated towns and
islands and provide teachers who have AIDS with ARVs.
Tanzania's Health Ministry has said it will significantly increase the number of HIV-infected Tanzanians receiving
ARV drugs to over 40,000 by the end of 2005. An estimated 12-15 per cent of Tanzanian adults have HIV/AIDS,
and UN statistics indicate about 200,000 people in the country are in acute need of ARV treatment.
Source: CDC Prevention News via International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)
Date: 31 March 2005
Online at: http://ippfnet.ippf.org/pub/IPPF_News/News_Details.asp?ID=4291
USAID Launches $13Million Project HIV/AIDS in Uzbekistan
USAID has launched a five-year, $13 million effort in Uzbekistan to help the country improve its ability to
ameliorate the impact of HIV/AIDS.
The project, called CAPACITY, aims to strengthen the technical capability of Uzbekistan to combat HIV/AIDS
and develop local organizations and networks to help control the spread of the virus. The CAPACITY project will
focus on HIV/AIDS prevention among vulnerable populations, including injecting drug users, sex workers and
In addition, the effort will improve access to voluntary HIV counselling, testing and anti-retrovirals (ARV), develop
models to advance the integration of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts with ongoing health care reforms
in the country, and show links between HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
The United Nations has said that the number of registered AIDS cases in Uzbekistan, 11,000, is a small number
for a country with a population of 25 million. Some experts believe the number of HIV-positive people could be 10
times higher and increase rapidly because of widespread injecting drug use.
Source: Kaiser Network via International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)
Date: 31 March 2005
Online at: http://ippfnet.ippf.org/pub/IPPF_News/News_Details.asp?ID=4294
New Web site for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria Information
Updated daily with the latest information on HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, this new Web site,
www.GlobalHealthReporting.org offers an easy and efficient way to stay on top of breaking news, current reports
and data, and events from around the world. The site is operated by the Kaiser Family Foundation with major
support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help journalists efficiently search the latest and most
accurate information on global health. Researchers, policymakers, and NGOs will also benefit from information
on the free site, which includes daily news summaries; a calendar of upcoming events related to HIV/AIDS, TB,
malaria and health journalism; current regional and global health statistics; in-depth country spotlights; and
reporting tools for journalists.
Date: 31 March 2005
Online at: http://www.procaare.org/archive/procaare/current.php
Government Shows Signs of Acknowledging Country's AIDS Epidemic
By Jeremy Bransten
For years, the United Nations, the World Bank, and other international organizations have urged Russia to take
urgent steps to slow the epidemic of HIV/AIDS that is spreading across the country. Russian President Vladimir
Putin has avoided the issue, and government funding for HIV/AIDS education and treatment programs until now
has been minimal. But for the first time, a top Russian government official has acknowledged the crisis, signaling
a possible turning point in Russia's approach to the problem.
Global experts and doctors working in Russia have long complained that when it came to the HIV/AIDS crisis,
the Kremlin was living in denial.
But yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zhukov finally broke the government's silence, telling an
international conference in Moscow that the AIDS epidemic in Russia has gone beyond a medical problem and is
now a threat to the country's national security.
Official statistics tell the story. In 1998, the number of HIV cases registered in Russia stood at 11,000. According
to the Russian Health Ministry, the number of cases has now mushroomed to more than 300,000. That's a 30-
fold increase in seven years.
Of course, those are the official numbers. According to unofficial estimates, which many experts believe are
closer to the truth, the actual number of HIV sufferers in Russia is closer to 1.5 million -- 1 percent of the
Yelena Tamazova heads the Moscow office of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. She tells RFE/RL
the situation is so serious that it has finally forced the government to acknowledge the problem. But she believes
an even larger epidemic can still be avoided.
According to official statistics, the number of people living with the HIV virus in Russia, in March 2005, was
314,000, she says. "But all Russian and international experts believe this number should be multiplied by five, at
a minimum. This is not a secret, and that is why the government is now paying attention to this problem, because
it can no longer be ignored. We still have a window of opportunity which will allow us to avoid an epidemic if we
take the right preventive measures. Because the problem so far in Russia is relatively young."
But that window could be closing fast. Since the growth of the HIV epidemic is exponential, doctors fear that if
major steps are not taken now to educate people about how to protect themselves from the disease, Russia
could soon be in the position of some African countries, where 20 to 30 percent of the population has HIV.
In countries whose governments have made a priority of slowing HIV -- by ensuring intravenous drug addicts do
not share dirty needles, and young people are educated about risky sexual practices and have access to
condoms -- the epidemic has been tamed.
HIV affects a disproportionately high number of young people in Russia -- 80 percent of sufferers are under the
age of 30. The implications for the country's economy if the trend is not stopped could be enormous. But
Tamazova says Zhukov's words represent a breakthrough, and she is encouraged.
Yesterday was the first time that such words were uttered by someone as senior as the deputy prime minister,
she says. "This indicates that there is the political will and that the Russian government has begun to pay serious
attention to HIV/AIDS. This is very welcome."
Yesterday's conference in Moscow brought together medical specialists, government representatives, and
business leaders. They discussed how they can work in partnership to tackle the problem.
We discussed the more active participation of business in programs to combat HIV, Tamazova says. "There is a
whole range of possible programs, including the distribution of medicine at workplaces, participation in
philanthropic projects. There can be many ways to cooperate. But the main goal is to create a partnership
between the state and business on this issue and a partnership between business and civil society."
As evidence of the Russian government's new determination to tackle the issue, Russian Health Minister Mikhail
Zurabov said at the conference that the ministry has struck a deal with international pharmaceutical companies
to reduce the cost of drugs to treat HIV/AIDS.
Zurabov said the agreement will enable Russian patients to be treated at one-seventh the cost of current
medications, allowing doctors to help many more sufferers.
Source: Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty (RFE/RL Newsline)
Date: 31 March 2005
Online at: http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/03/fbc22c99-d547-4859-9f15-b22516631bfc.html
World Bank OKs $35 mil. grant to Vietnam to fight HIV/AIDS
The World Bank has approved a grant of $35 million to support Vietnam's program to curb the transmission of
HIV/AIDS, the bank said Wednesday. The grant will fund the HIV/AIDS Prevention Project for Vietnam aimed at
reducing the transmission of the disease and preventing its spreading into the general population.
Over 60 percent of the grant will be used to support the design and implementation of actions plans drawn up by
two cities and 18 provinces. "This national HIV/AIDS strategy places responsibility for implementation with the
people's committees of the provinces and cities," said Klaus Rohland, director of the World Bank in Vietnam.
The Vietnamese government has prioritized prevention programs among vulnerable populations, as experience
in other countries has shown that nationwide efforts to target high-risks groups can help reduce the spread of
HIV significantly. The Health Ministry estimates that 245,000 people in Vietnam were living with HIV by the end
of 2003. This means that one in 75 households in Vietnam has a family member living with HIV.
Source: Yahoo News
Date: 30 March 2005
Online at: http://asia.news.yahoo.com/050330/kyodo/d8953ko80.html
AIDS, terrorism, debts top IPU agenda
Editor's Note: Published on page A1 of the April 2, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
GLOBAL matters including HIV/AIDS, terrorism, human rights, war crimes and the debt problem will top the
agenda of the 112th Inter-Parliamentary Union general assembly, but other key issues such as the lack of
democratic reforms in Burma (Myanmar) will be tackled at the sidelines.
Everything is set for the six-day assembly that kicks off tomorrow at the Philippine International Convention
Center in Pasay City, organizers said yesterday. Manila is hosting the event for the first time since the IPU was
established in 1889. "From what we know, over 700 parliamentarians from 120 countries will be attending. This
is a resounding success. This is the most well-attended [in the union's history]," Chilean Sen. Sergio Paez
Verdugo, IPU president, said at a press briefing. At least 600 delegates from 16 countries flew in on Thursday
alone as organizers put final touches to elaborate preparations, including security. Senate officials expect 1,500
parliamentarians from 145 countries worldwideto attend. The bulk of the delegates is expected to arrive today
We have not received any cancellation [notice]. That's good news, Carmen Razon-Arce¤o, chair of the
organizing committee, said in a phone interview. Verdugo, who has toured the PICC as well as the Cultural
Center of the Philippines, venue of the opening gala, expressed satisfaction with the preparations. "This is very
well-planned, well-organized. We have no problem with anything whatsoever... to carry on with our work," he
said, speaking in Spanish which was translated by a staff member. "They have done a splendid job."
Everything is in place. It's all systems go, Senate President Franklin Drilon added in an interview. Arceño said
repair work at the CCP and PICC, including the replacement of lighting systems, carpets and glass doors, and
the repainting and burnishing of the facade and walls, had been completed. "We're all set to give it our best
Verdugo said the controversial issue of Burma, particularly the failure of its military junta to set a timetable for its
"road map to democracy," was not included in the conference agenda but would be tackled anyway by
parliamentarians in the region. "Any resolution will be communicated to us for us to look at it," he said. Drilon
said the issue would be discussed by parliamentarians from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Plus
Three Group (Japan, China and South Korea) tomorrow morning prior to the conference opening. "This is not an
official IPU activity, but an activity that the Asean parliamentarians will undertake as a follow-up to [their] meeting
Burma is not sending a delegation to the assembly. But according to The Associated Press, four members of
Burma's abolished parliament, now living in exile, will testify tomorrow on conditions in their homeland before an
IPU committee. The conflicts between China and Taiwan and between South and North Korea are also not on
the agenda but parliamentarians can raise these issues during the debates, officials said. "During debates, each
parliamentarian can raise issues, and these will be debated," Verdugo said. "We know discussions will lead to
resolutions down the road," added IPU secretary general Anders Johnsson.
The official items on the agenda include HIV/AIDS, the debt problem and Millennium Development Goals,
international policies on the situation of women, war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and terrorism,
among others. "AIDS claims the lives of many people just as terror attacks do," Verdugo said, adding: "We'll
also be dealing with crimes against humanity, justice without frontiers. Criminals will be brought before justice."
'I feel secure' Daily security meetings between the conference organizers and top officials of the Philippine
National Police will continue until today. But Swedish parliamentarian Bernt Ekholm said he and the other
delegates were not too bothered by security threats and were looking forward to "sightseeing." "We have heard
about [the security threats] but ... I feel secure. I mean, anything can happen anywhere," said Ekholm, who
heads the Swedish delegation. "I expect Filipino authorities to do what they can about security. I've heard that we
could be a target, but the Easter [celebration was supposedly a] target and [nothing happened]."
Ekholm said he and his fellow Swedes were "not really expecting any trouble." "But you never know... We
haven't started the conference yet, so it's a little too early to talk about it," he said. Annika Markovic, Sweden's
ambassador to the Philippines, also said security threats had not figured prominently in her talks with her visiting
countrymen. "We haven't really discussed it. But I would assume that they would react the same way as you and
I would. If you believe that you are in danger, you get scared and you try to react accordingly," she said.
For the world
Markovic and Ekholm spoke with reporters after a dialogue between Sweden's delegation and Philippine
lawmakers at the House of Representatives yesterday morning. Ekholm expressed hope that the IPU assembly
would be a success for the international community. "This is not a conference of the Philippines, it is a
conference for the world," he said. He also said he and his colleagues would spend two days sightseeing
Markovic said the delegates would visit the Subic free port, the former US naval base in Olongapo, Zambales.
She said they had earlier visited Fort Bonifacio, a children's home in Malate, Manila, and upscale Makati. Visits to
Chinatown in Binondo, Manila, the "Walled City" of Intramuros and its Light and Sound Museum, and Smokey
Mountain, the garbage dump turned housing area for the poor, are also scheduled. "These are study visits. They
want to study the situation in the Philippines to know its problems and possibilities," Markovic said.
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport is employing both overt and covert security as part of the preparations for
the IPU conference. "Normally, we don't do overt security operations. But this time, the security posture [shown]
will serve as a deterrent. We also want to assure the public that we are ready," Chief Supt. Andres Caro, chief of
the PNP's Aviation Security Group, said in a phone interview. Caro also heads the sub-task group Paliparan,
which is in charge of securing the IPU delegates at the Naia.
Black-clad members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team conspicuously roamed the Naia
premises, including the arrival area, armed with high-powered weapons. Bomb-sniffing dogs also made frequent
inspections of the baggage conveyor area and the Dignitaries' Lounge. Caro defended the security measures,
particularly the presence of the SWAT teams. "Overt security is allowed even in other countries. There are even
assault teams at airports. It has become a standard security measure," he said.
The Inquirer observed that while the SWAT teams roamed the arrival lobby shortly after noon, they were out of
sight during the peak passenger arrival hours later in the day. In a separate interview, Col. Francisco Dino,
manager of the Airport Police Department, said the SWAT teams became highly visible yesterday when most of
the IPU delegates arrived. The crack force from the National Capital Region Police Office will remain posted at
the Naia until the IPU delegates leave Manila after the conference. "We just want to be sure that nothing will
IPU delegates may bring in their personal bodyguards, but not their firearms. "We will not allow them to bring
guns to the venue of assembly," PNP Director General Arturo Lomibao said, adding that the firearms would have
to be deposited with the Aviation Security Group. "In other countries, it is also being done. This is out of respect
for the integrity and laws of the Philippines, and the capability of our security forces," he said. The PNP is
deploying as many as 15,000 policemen, soldiers and Coast Guard personnel in Metro Manila and places that
the delegates are expected to visit. Lomibao said a single untoward incident, not necessarily a terrorist attack,
If they slipped, or bumped into something, or lost their valuables, they'll talk about it at home-and that would
embarrass us, he said. So would a delegate losing his/her mobile phone to a thief or falling prey to a con man,
quipped Senior Supt. Leopoldo Bataoil, PNP spokesperson. Lomibao said that because the PNP would not
provide "personal security" to the delegates, they were being discouraged from going out individually or in groups
without informing the police. "This is to [prevent] any accident [from happening] or any harm from being inflicted
on them," he said. Lomibao also said he inspected the PICC the other night, and was satisfied with what he saw.
Source: Inquirer News Service
Date: 2 April 2005
Online at: http://news.inq7.net/nation/index.php?index=1&story_id=32290
IPM, the Global Campaign for Microbicide and the Alliance for Microbicide Development issue a call to the G8
In the run up to the G8 Summit scheduled for July 6-8, 2005 in Gleneagles, Scotland, IPM and colleague
organizations urge the members of the G8 to increase investment in microbicide research and development to
slow HIV infection rates among women in developing countries.
Request to the G8 for Increased Investment in Microbicide Research and Development to Slow HIV Infection
Rates among Women in Developing Countries
Proposal from the International Partnership for Microbicides, the Global Campaign for Microbicides and the
Alliance for Microbicide Development
HIV infection rates among women have risen dramatically in recent years. Biologically, women are more than
twice as susceptible to HIV as men. This vulnerability is exacerbated by the widespread social inequality and
poverty that make it difficult for women in many developing countries to insist upon condom use, abstinence or
faithfulness with older or more powerful men. In fact, some women who get infected with HIV have only one
sexual partner: their husbands. For women in much of the world, being poor and young are the most significant
risk factors for acquiring HIV infection. In sub-Saharan Africa, three quarters of HIV-positive young people are
girls. In six African countries, women and girls aged 15 – 24 are two-and-a-half times more likely to be HIV-
Historically, the G8 Summit has focused the attention of global leaders on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Last year at
Sea Island, Georgia, USA, G8 leaders called for the support of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise; in prior years
the group focused on supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and other donor
efforts to include access to drugs and treatment. In 2000, the G8 made a commitment to reduce the number of
HIV/AIDS infections in young people by 25 percent by 2010. This year, in keeping with its strong record in HIV
prevention, the G8 should expand its focus to dramatically increase investment in microbicide research and
The justification for such investment is compelling. As a female-initiated HIV prevention tool, microbicides could
be a powerful part of a comprehensive response to the AIDS epidemic with other prevention measures such as
condoms, vaccines, and treatment and care for those with HIV/AIDS.
Microbicides are products such as gels or creams that could be applied topically to the vagina, thereby reducing
transmission of HIV during sexual intercourse. Studies of different mechanisms to achieve this are underway and
include a vaginal ring designed to release a microbicide slowly over time. An effective microbicide might kill or
otherwise immobilize HIV; form a barrier between the virus and vaginal tissue; boost the vagina's natural
defenses against HIV; or prevent the virus from replicating after it enters the cells in the vagina.
With this year’s Summit focused on Africa, it would be especially appropriate for the G8 to recognize
microbicides as the most promising new prevention option in development for protecting African women against
HIV. Last year, UNAIDS formed the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS to respond to the feminization of the
epidemic. This year, at Gleneagles, the G8 leaders have an opportunity to ensure that concrete policy actions are
taken to accelerate the development of microbicides for women in both developing and developed countries.
Microbicide research and development are severely under funded. For example, only US$140 million was
committed to microbicide research, development and advocacy in 2004, despite the fact that the science is
advancing rapidly. An additional US$100 million per year investment will be needed to significantly accelerate the
research and development of microbicides. Five candidate microbicides have entered or are entering large-
scale efficacy trials this year, and new second-generation microbicides based on the latest antiretroviral drugs
are now in or will enter safety trials later this year. Assuming a microbicide is available in 2010, an average
While a highly effective HIV vaccine promises to end the global AIDS epidemic, it is still uncertain when such an
HIV vaccine will be discovered, making microbicides vital to protect a generation of women and crucial in the
future as a significant complement to HIV vaccines, treatment, and behavior change. Thus, we seek a
substantial increase in G8 investment in research, development and advocacy for microbicides. Such a
commitment could be channeled through national research programmes, local research centers, non-
governmental organizations and public-private partnerships such as the International Partnership for
Microbicides (IPM), and should fund scientific research; product development; clinical trials; regulatory
Two major challenges for microbicides are, first, the size of the pipeline of new microbicide candidates and,
second, clinical trial capacity. To sustain momentum in microbicide product development and improvement, a
steady flow of new candidates will be critical. The only viable approach to assuring that flow, in both the short and
the long term, is through the engagement of commercial pharmaceutical companies where there are, today,
dozens of potential compounds already considered as therapeutics that could advance into clinical development
were they to be made available. And, with respect to the second challenge, as new candidate microbicides enter
safety trials, it will be imperative that new clinical trial sites be constructed, equipped, and staffed to conduct the
IPM, together with the Global Campaign for Microbicides and the Alliance for Microbicide Development, call on
Significantly increase funding for microbicide research and development, with an emphasis on development, by
supporting national research institutions and through public-private partnerships such as the IPM.
Encourage private pharmaceutical companies to invest in microbicide research and enrich the product pipeline
by following the example of far-sighted companies such as Tibotec Pharmaceuticals Ltd., a subsidiary of
Johnson and Johnson, and GlaxoSmithKline, which have agreed to work with IPM to contribute to development
of promising antiretroviral drugs as microbicides.
Promote international leadership by publicly supporting the need for microbicides as part of a comprehensive
response to HIV/AIDS, and for the building of capacity in developing countries to conduct large-scale clinical
trials of promising candidate microbicides. This should also include assistance for the strengthening of regulatory
systems in developing countries and support for the advocacy and policy research that underpins such efforts.
Ensure that women in developing countries have universal access when a microbicide is successfully developed
by creating an advance-purchase commitment for microbicides and establishing such a mechanism within the
Sample Language for G8 Communiqué: We offer the following example of how microbicide policy concepts
might appear in an official G8 communiqué.
“We are committed to investing substantial resources over the next five years to develop microbicides, a new
HIV prevention technology, to combat the increasing feminization of the global AIDS epidemic. Microbicides are
the best and most immediate hope for supplying women and girls with a female-initiated HIV prevention tool.
Microbicides have the potential to save millions of lives.”
“We further pledge to support expanded investment in microbicide research and development through national
research programs and public-private partnerships. We are committed to an international effort by working with
developing countries to expand infrastructure for clinical trials and by establishing an advance purchase
commitment that will enable universal access to microbicides.”
The Alliance for Microbicide Development is a global, multisectoral, multidisciplinary coalition founded to foster
the development of microbicides to prevent HIV/AIDS through advocacy, communication, convening, and
addressing critical problems in practice and policy. http://www.microbicide.org
The Global Campaign for Microbicides is an international movement of activists, citizens and non profit
organizations dedicated to accelerating access to new HIV prevention tools, especially for women.
The International Partnership for Microbicides was established to accelerate the development and accessibility of
microbicides to prevent the transmission of HIV. The organization’s goal is to improve the efficiency of all efforts
to deliver safe and effective microbicides as soon as possible. http://www.ipm-microbicides.org
Source: International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM)
Online at: http://www.ipm-microbicides.org/publications/g8_031505.cfm
Uganda’s official “AB” policy
In November 2004, Uganda claimed to be the first country in the world to draft an official national policy on
abstinence and fidelity. Titled the “Uganda National Abstinence and Being Faithful Policy and Strategy on
Prevention of Transmission on HIV,” the draft policy is described by its authors as a companion to the country’s
existing strategy on the promotion of condoms and a component of Uganda’s larger “ABC” strategy.59 A review
of the draft policy document, however, shows that the policy’s objective is to scale up abstinence-only programs
styled after those in use in the United States. Indeed, the definition of “abstinence education” in the draft follows
almost verbatim the eight-part definition of “abstinence education” in the U.S. Personal Responsibility and Work
Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 cited above. The Ugandan definition, which is in seven parts, reads:
Abstinence education means an educational or motivational approach which:
Has as its exclusive purpose, teaching, supporting and empowering the social, psychological, and health gains to
be realized by abstaining from premarital sexual activity;
*Teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage (or “faithfulness”) as the expected standard;
*Teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases, and
other associated health problems;
*Teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in context of marriage is the expected standard of
human sexual activity;
*Teaches that sexual activity outside the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical
*Teaches that bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child’s
parents, and society;
*Teaches young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increases vulnerability to
The U.S. legislation from which this is drawn is not cited anywhere in the policy document. Later in the
document, the AB policy is described as follows:
Sexual abstinence until marriage and faithfulness in marriage will be widely promoted as the most effective
means of preventing STI [sexually transmitted infections]/HIV transmission. Special emphasis will be placed on
promoting delaying sexual debut among the young and faithfulness in marriage, eliminating sexual promiscuity.61
The document further calls for the establishment of an “A&B [Abstinence and Being Faithful] Coordination Unit”
(ABCU) within the Ugandan Ministry of Health, as well as a “National A&B Policy Steering Committee” (NABPSC)
and an “A&B Coordination Committee” (ABCC). None of these proposed entities is given a mandate beyond
With respect to the promotion of condoms, the AB policy is contradictory. At several points, the policy speaks in
terms of bringing AB interventions on an “equal footing” with existing condom interventions; it states that local
AIDS programs should “ensure that A, B and C are mutually complementary and not competitive strategies.”62
Elsewhere, however, the policy suggests that information about condoms can undermine the message of
abstinence. Under the sections entitled “core values” and “quality assurance,” the document reads:
Messages about HIV and AIDS need not be ambiguous and mixed up. A and B work in one sense are [sic] a
personal challenge that calls for self-denial of immediate pleasure in favor of some good or positive health—or
even survival. The mixing of this message with an offer of perceived immediate gratification by means of
condom use can be confusing to youth and indeed adults. The condom message can compromise the power of
the A and B message. Nevertheless, the policy is to promote A and B without reducing the value of the C
message, just as condoms must be promoted in ways that do not undercut or undermine messages of
...since A&B messages work in part on the principle of motivating people to deny current pleasure in favor of a
future good, it is possible to have the quality and strength of an A&B program diminished by simultaneously
presenting a risk reduction behavior (e.g., condom use) as an equal and easier alternative; this is not true.
Implementers can do risk reduction education and promotion but not risk reduction adoption and sustainability.
Abstinence promoters should avoid diminishing program quality by sending out contradictory messages.63
The AB policy’s narrow focus on abstinence and fidelity to the exclusion of all other determinants of HIV risk is
reinforced in its section on monitoring and evaluation. Despite recognizing the link between HIV infection and
practices such as domestic violence, rape, and wife inheritance, the policy contains no indicators on reduction of
these practices. Nor does it even seek to measure whether program participants actually adopt abstinence or
fidelity as HIV prevention strategies; rather, it measures only national trends in sexual behavior, which says little
about the experience of program participants. In addition, the policy measures numerous process issues such
as meetings and reports of AB agencies and task forces and the preponderance of abstinence and fidelity
messages being provided in the country. By these indicators, the policy could be considered a success even if it
Despite the fact that numerous evaluations of abstinence-only programs have been conducted in the United
States, none of these evaluations is mentioned in Uganda’s draft AB policy. It is possible that the authors of the
draft were not aware of these studies or did not consider them relevant to the Ugandan context; however, the
Ugandan government should address this concern. It is of the utmost relevance that every independent
evaluation to study abstinence-only programs has found them to be ineffective at influencing participants’ sexual
intentions and behavior, and possibly harmful. (These studies are reviewed later in this report.)
A further concern is that the draft AB policy does not adequately address the high risk of HIV faced by married
people, especially women. At several points, the policy suggests that strengthening the institutions of marriage
and the family is an effective approach to preventing “social problems” such as HIV/AIDS. The section entitled
“guiding conceptual principles/model” states:
The family institution is the cradle of civilization, because it [is] the natural training ground for civil behavior,
morals, sexuality, integrity, interpersonal relationships essential for life, work ethics, life skills etc. In other words
when the family institution is functioning as it was meant to function, many social problems which ultimately
feature on a national level can be eliminated, and hence the need to pay special attention to Marriage and the
From a public health point of view, it is true that mutual fidelity to an HIV-negative partner can help to prevent
sexual transmission of HIV. However, as the draft AB policy recognizes in its section on “implementation
modalities,” women face a high risk of HIV from such things as domestic violence, unequal gender relations, and
wife inheritance.65 These issues should be more clearly integrated into the document’s discussion of marriage
In the section on “strategy for implementation,” the draft AB policy proposes mandatory HIV testing for married
couples as a solution to HIV transmission in marriage. The document states:
Communication for being faithful should be integrated in all pre-marital counseling and an HIV test should be
required for all those intending to get married.66
Forced HIV testing is in itself an infringement of the right to bodily autonomy and to informed consent for medical
procedures, as recognized by national and international legal standards.67 Making an HIV test a precondition of
marriage also infringes upon the right to marry and, especially for women, leads to the risk of violence,
discrimination, and stigma on disclosure of HIV status. While couples intending to marry should have full access
to voluntary HIV counseling and testing, this does not substitute for legal protections against marital rape,
domestic violence, wife inheritance, and other human rights abuses that increase married women’s HIV risk. Nor
does it address widespread social approval of men’s infidelity, which persists in Uganda despite longstanding
The Less They Know, the Better Abstinence-Only HIV/AIDS Programs in Uganda
Full report online at: http://hrw.org/reports/2005/uganda0305/index.htm
Source: Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Date: 30 March 2005
Online at: http://hrw.org/reports/2005/uganda0305/5.htm#_Toc98378371
Secret tour of Zimbabwean wards shows collapse of health system
By Meera Selva in Bulawayo
Driving into one of the main public hospitals in Bulawayo, you pass a wide, curved roundabout outside casualty. It
was carefully designed to allow several ambulances to drop patients off as close to the door as possible, before
driving off seamlessly to another emergency. But now, the driveway is empty. Most patients who can afford the
hospital fees come in on rickety minibuses, with every jolt making their pain worse. The wealthier come in
borrowed cars that belch fumes, making the passengers cough.
One doctor remembers exactly when the ambulances disappeared. "During the constitutional referendum [in
early 2000] Zanu-PF commandeered all parastatal transport, including ambulances, to go and campaign," he
recalled. "The vehicles were completely wrecked and a viable hospital referral system, which brought patients in
from the countryside at regular intervals, disappeared."
Zimbabwe's health sector was once the envy of other African countries, but two decades of mismanagement,
neglect and theft have left the country short of medical care. The government realises that the health sector is
something to be ashamed of - it rarely allows foreigners to enter public hospitals unless they are on an official,
One doctor, who asked not to be identified, agreed to show me around his hospital as long as I pretended I was
searching for a relative. "Maybe your 'uncle' is in here," he said, opening the door to the emergency operating
theatre. "Though I hope for his sake he isn't." It was clear what he meant - the furniture was broken, and the
overhead light, needed for surgeons to see what they are operating on, needed a new fuse. Technically, the
hospital still had a functioning casualty unit but anyone needing emergency surgery risked being killed by a
The other wards were just as chaotic. The maternity ward has a working ultrasound machine, but the person who
knows how it works only comes in two days a week. The store-room was alarmingly bare. The hospital was short
of the basic medicines needed to treat heart disease, fevers and malaria. Expensive drugs like anti-retrovirals did
not exist. Most of the shortages appear to be caused by erratic financing.
There is a different excuse for everything, but I'm not interested, the doctor said. "In one case, the contract is
given to an indigenous supplier who could not deliver, another company was not paid for 12 months so stopped
shipping medicines, or the manager simply has no idea how many canulas he needs to order each month."
Well-trained medical staff have already fled the country. The doctor who showed us around the hospital said five
of his colleagues have left in the past few years - some because they were offered better salaries elsewhere,
others because they were car-jacked or fed up with the working conditions. Inflation is so high in some areas that
the government has recruited Cuban doctors and paid them in foreign currency to cope with shortages.
Now, the wealthy in Zimbabwe go to private hospitals. The poorest have simply given up on medical care. Since
the government reintroduced an upfront fee in the same year that it gave large payouts to war veterans, at least
half the hospital beds have lain empty. The staff say patients cannot afford the bus fare to the hospital, never
mind the admission fees. And since the 1990s, standards in hospitals have fallen so much that most patients
know that, even if they are seen by a doctor, they will not be cured. "People have lost faith in the system," said
the doctor. They think: 'Why spend money on a sub-standard, ineffective service?' Now, if they really want to be
cured, they go to a witch doctor." Life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 33 years, compared to 63 in 1988.
The decline of the health sector coincides with a rapid rise in the rate of HIV infection. A report by Unicef shows
that the country has the fourth highest level of HIV/Aids in the world with at least one in every four people being
infected. The government in Harare has added a 6 per cent Aids levy on income tax to combat the problem, but
it is not clear where this money is going. Only two clinics in Bulawayo can supply anti-retroviral drugs, and the
waiting time just to be seen is five months.
Most staff remember the better days. At independence, Zimbabwe boasted that it had the best medical system
on the continent after South Africa - all the new government had to do was make it accessible to everyone. "At
independence, Zimbabwe had a very viable medical system," said the doctor. "The whites had the biggest share
of the cake. That was obviously bad. The government pushed through measures to equalise things for a halcyon
period before things were messed up. Now, after all that, we have a health system on a par with Burkina Faso."
Source: Ezilon Infobase
Date: 30 March 2005
Online at: http://www.ezilon.com/information/article_3101.shtml
As AIDS toll rises, humanity endures
Death is everywhere in Zambia, and employees of UAB's AIDS research center are not immune. Still, signs of
life arise from the fight.
LUSAKA, Zambia -- Every year, an estimated 130,000 Zambians die from AIDS.
George Mwape's number came up Sunday, Jan. 23. His passing was more than a statistic for family, friends and
many of the 350 employees of the UAB Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia. Mwape was the first
CIDRZ employee to die from AIDS. His death cast a pall over the AIDS-fighting organization that is an alliance
between the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Zambia's public health system. The sadness was hard to
Every beat in Zambia's drum roll of death is terrible. "Death is everywhere," said Stephen Lewis, United Nations
special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. "You stand around and wonder if the world has gone mad." But something
tough seems to be emerging from this insane loss - human resolve. Dr. Moses Sinkala, district director of health
in Lusaka and president of the CIDRZ board of directors, said Zambia is fighting desperately for survival. "There
are times when you start wondering whether we are really human beings," he said. "We would become extinct if
we didn't do anything." So Zambians cry, bury their dead and try harder.
Day of death:
A dreary drizzle fell the Wednesday they buried Mwape, who was one of 38 drivers employed by CIDRZ. He was
34 years old - a year short of Zambia's life expectancy. Statistically, AIDS has cut 20 years off the expected
lifespan of babies now being born in Zambia. Mwape's family publicly blamed his death on spinal meningitis,
which was partially true. But after his body was lowered into the red African soil, friends and doctors confirmed
that Mwape had AIDS, which made him susceptible to meningitis. Mwape left behind a wife and three children,
including an infant. During his funeral, a chilling, high-pitched wail from Mwape's wife reverberated through the
Being a widow in sub-Saharan Africa is hard. There's no Social Security, and when a husband dies, often his
side of the family claims all his property even though it may leave his widow and children impoverished. The
tradition is based upon a man's supremacy in marriage. Amid the carnage of the AIDS pandemic, the practice of
disenfranchising a widow is being discouraged. The minister who conducted Mwape's funeral pleaded for people
to care for the widow and her children. A collection was taken up from the 200 people who packed the church.
The service ended with mourners walking past a beautifully crafted wooden coffin and peeking at Mwape's
shrouded remains through a hatch. Some mourners were overwhelmed with tears and grief.
Outside, CIDRZ drivers placed the coffin in the back of a flatbed truck, and a group of men piled into the back of
a pickup to lead a procession to the New Leopard Hill Cemetery, about a 15-minute drive away. The procession
moved through the mist past a large billboard with a public health awareness message: "What have you heard
about AIDS?" At New Leopard Hill Cemetery, grave markers peeked above waist-high weeds. It was created
after the old Leopard Hill Cemetery filled up. About 60 people a day die of AIDS in Lusaka, and cemeteries must
constantly be expanded or created. A grave had been prepared for Mwape, but it wasn't large enough. Men with
hoes and shovels spent 45 minutes lengthening it, while mourners sang traditional African songs and religious
Mwape's casket was lowered into the grave. His wife and other relatives threw in handfuls of sandy red soil, and
workers quickly filled the grave, heaping dirt high on top and pounding it down with shovels. "Whap! Whap!
Whap!" Mwape's mother threw herself on the grave, and two women lifted her up. The service ended with
Mwape's relatives and friends giving personal testimonials. One man told mourners that Mwape had been to the
cemetery many times before his death to put flowers on the graves of friends and relatives. "Now, he's in the
Turning a corner:
Two weeks after the funeral, Dr. Sten Vermund, a UAB physician and a CIDRZ board member, said the stigma
of AIDS remains so strong in Zambia that Mwape never sought testing and treatment. He didn't learn he had
AIDS until it was too late. Antiretroviral drugs can bring near-miraculous recoveries from AIDS, but advanced
spinal meningitis is a difficult complication. Mwape's death is prompting action. CIDRZ is "revitalizing" its
employee education program about AIDS, Vermund said. "We're going to try our very best to make sure nothing
like that happens again," he said. Victories are possible in Zambia's war against AIDS, Vermund insisted.
Nearby Uganda has experienced a decline in new infections. Much of that progress can be traced to men
becoming monogamous - a monumental change in behavior promoted by public health authorities. Uganda's
rare success among African countries also can be traced to a strong alliance between the government, the
Anglican Church, community groups and relief organizations. Teenagers were taught about safe sex, and
abstinence was encouraged. Condoms were widely distributed and used. Public information campaigns
The U.N. special envoy, Lewis, said the same type of alliance is forming in Zambia. "It's amazing how much
progress has been made," he said. "It's a phenomenal shift." Two years ago, Zambia was struggling with
famine, and free AIDS drugs seemed an impossibility, he said. Now, the famine has ended, and America is
The Zambian government recently announced that its health service will no longer charge patients for
antiretroviral drugs. That development was largely the result of a financial commitment by CIDRZ and the United
States to keep antiretroviral drugs flowing to patients even if the government runs out of money.
Lewis said it is possible for Zambia to reach its goal of getting 100,000 AIDS patients into treatment by the end of
this year. "At this point, there are between 17,000 and 18,000 people in treatment. It's a great leap forward to
100,000, but the momentum is powerful." Lewis cited many other signs of progress, including a strong
government commitment, the possibility that Zambia may get relief from crushing international debt, the creation
of support groups and a higher level of AIDS awareness. But the war is not won, he said. "I am not given to self-
Zambia's health care system is struggling, hundreds of thousands of AIDS orphans need care and nearly a
million Zambians still need testing and treatment. "Nobody kids themselves," Lewis said. "The work is
Herculean and overwhelming. The dying is just awful, but at least there is this absolute commitment to break
A foothold in AIDS fight:
Dr. Jeffrey S.A. Stringer, a UAB physician and director of CIDRZ, said there is a bigger role for UAB in Zambia
and Africa. He wants to consolidate CIDRZ operations, which are in six buildings scattered across Lusaka. "I
would like for us to make a UAB regional center for excellence," he said. "If you live in Zimbabwe and want to
know about AIDS care, you come to Zambia to learn from UAB and CIDRZ. If you live in the Congo, Botswana,
It would require an investment, and Stringer understands that sending money to Africa is unpopular among some
Americans. But Stringer and other authorities agree that the death toll from AIDS pandemic will grow and it could
collapse the fragile stability of Africa. "That's a far worse scenario than Iraq," he said "You think terrorist cells are
doing well in Iraq and Afghanistan. If these governments collapse, there's nothing here in Africa, and it's just a
It's important for Americans to understand what is at stake and what is required. "It's not just money," he said.
"We need people who are willing to come here and give part of their professional lives, their creativity and their
energy." For him, it is a war with no exit strategy. But it is a war America has joined as an ally. "We're
Source: The Birmingham News
Date: 27 March 2005
Online at: http://www.al.com/search/index.ssf?/base/news/1111918622255661.xml?birminghamnews?nstate
Thou Shalt Not Condomise
Muslims and Catholics do not see eye-to-eye on many issues. But when it comes to practices which they fear will
allow the encroachment of unacceptable secular values - abortion, gay marriage and condom use - they quickly
close ranks to form a united front against the threat. This explains why South Africa's Religious Leaders' Forum,
which includes members of the Catholic, Muslim and Hindu faiths, has disagreed with Health Minister Manto
Tshabalala-Msimang on the need to use condoms in fighting AIDS.
During a meeting held earlier this year in the commercial hub of Johannesburg, forum leader Ashwin Trikamjee
said that for moral and religious reasons, the body placed "a greater emphasis on faithfulness and abstinence as
opposed to the use of condoms". In an interview with IPS, Ahmad Kathrada of the Jamiatul Ulama - an Islamic
group based in the coastal city of Durban - said his organisation had education initiatives to promote these two
behaviours, and that there were no circumstances under which Muslims were allowed to use condoms. "It is
against the teachings of Islam (on) illicit relationships and fornication," Kathrada noted.
These words were echoed by Ali Abdel-Nour, who teaches Somali refugee children in Johannesburg about
Islam. "Young people find it hard to adhere to the principles of abstinence and faithfulness. This is why young
Muslims are encouraged to marry early to avoid indulging in illegal sexual habits," he said. Repeated efforts by
IPS to get comment from the Catholic Church about its stance on condoms were unsuccessful.
However, Cardinal Wilfred Napier of the Southern African Catholic Bishop's Conference is said to voiced fears
that condoms were not an effective AIDS deterrent, during the February meeting of the Religious Leaders'
Forum. In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation last year, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trulillo, in
charge of family affairs at the Vatican, said the H.I. virus was "roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon.
The spermatozoon can easily pass through the net that is formed by the condom."
His remarks were later condemned by the World Health Organisation, which said that correct condom use
reduced the risk of HIV infection by 90 percent. Such comments have resonance in Africa, where religion plays
a significant role in many communities. According to the latest figures available from the Vatican, Africa
registered a 4.5 percent increase in the number of baptised Catholics in 2003 - the highest such increase globally.
The continent is also the region most affected by HIV, being home to 70 percent of all people who have
contracted the virus, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). In South Africa
alone, 5.3 million people are infected with HIV. This has caused certain AIDS activists to despair about the role
of religious institutions in fighting the pandemic.
Molefe Tsele, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, takes a more liberal stand in the
condom debate, however - publicly criticising the claims of certain Religious Leaders' Forum members that the
prophylactics are not an effective way of preventing the spread of HIV. "All credible scientific studies conclude
that the virus that causes AIDS cannot pass through a latex condom. When used properly, condoms are
effective in halting transmission of the virus," he observed, in a statement put on the Council of Churches website.
Tsele has also expressed reservations about the effect that the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief
(PEPFAR) is having on condom use. The 15-billion-dollar initiative places considerable emphasis on abstinence,
saying a refusal to have sex before marriage constitutes the best way of avoiding AIDS.
Condom use is not forbidden. However under PEPFAR, distribution of the prophylactics is mostly aimed at the
members of so-called "high risk" groups, such as sex workers. The 'U.S. Five-Year Global HIV/AIDS Strategy
Report', issued in 2004, speaks of promoting condom distribution amongst "specific at-risk populations...These
groups include prostitutes, sexually active discordant couples (where only one partner has HIV), substance
abusers, and others."
But, says Tsele, "This message creates the false impression that sex within marriage is not 'risky' unless the
couple know that one partner is infected." "In fact," he adds, "women are particularly vulnerable to infection,
often by husbands whom they incorrectly presume to be faithful. Fidelity alone is not an adequate defence
The discord between Africa's religious leaders concerning AIDS prevention may be viewed with interest in other
parts of the world, such as Asia, where HIV is gaining momentum - and where faith is central fact of life for many.
Perhaps they might end up drawing their best lessons about the interplay between religion and AIDS from
As IPS reported last year, government and religious leaders in this West African country have compromised on
matters such as condom distribution, opening the way for Catholic and Islamic institutions to play a key role in
fighting the pandemic. The results have been impressive. According to UNAIDS, HIV prevalence in Senegal
currently stands at less than one percent.
Source: Inter Press Service (IPS)
Date: 31 March 2005
Online at: http://www.ipsnews.net/new_nota.asp?idnews=28101
Secrets and Silence Around AIDS
As AIDS affects a growing number of women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa, a timely novel has been released
by first time Zimbabwean author Lutanga Shaba which tackles the factors underpinning women’s vulnerability to
Entitled ‘Secrets of a Woman’s Soul’, the novel recounts the story of Beata, a mother struggling to ensure a
bright future for her daughter Linga. Told from Linga’s perspective, the novel is based on actual events in
Salisbury, as the capital of Harare was known during the colonial era. It moves back and forth in time as Linga,
who is preparing to bury her mother, recalls her childhood and the sacrifices made by Beata.
Determined to earn enough money to further the education of her daughter, Beata finds herself forced to have
sex with an unscrupulous man in exchange for a job. Ultimately, she contracts HIV. Without any hint of
moralizing – and with unexpected touches of black humour – the novel lays bare the fact that calls for abstinence
or "condomising", central to AIDS initiatives for women, often mean little to those who are poor and powerless.
According to the United Nations Development Fund for Women, 55 percent of all HIV-positive adults in sub-
Saharan Africa are women, while teenage girls are five times more likely to be infected than boys.
Launching a joint report by three U.N. agencies at the Fifteenth International AIDS Conference held in Thailand
last year, Thoraya Obaid – head of the United Nations Population Fund – said AIDS campaigns should be
expanded to meet the real needs of women and girls, as they often lacked the social and economic power to
push for fidelity or condom use. Obaid also noted that that abuse of women heightened their risk of contracting
AIDS. (The report in question was entitled ‘Women and HIV/AIDS: Confronting the Crisis’.)
The fact that the international community has not already addressed these issues angers Shaba, who says the
failure to discuss actual problems confronting women simply compounds the dangers presented by HIV. She is
also frustrated by the ongoing stigmatization of AIDS, which throws an added spoke in the wheel when it comes
to dealing with the pandemic.
I wrote the novel because I was angry. I didn’t feel my mother needed to die when she did and I was angry about
the way the stigmatization around her disease made her silent, the way the medication was hard to access…and
the way the world makes it worse by moralising about the disease, Shaba says. Her novel also highlights the
fact that discussions about the sexuality of HIV-positive people are taboo – and that this too stands in the way of
people getting tested for the H.I. virus. "Human beings are sexual beings," she says, "and the message that
comes through from the silence is that you are better off not finding out…than to find out and have protected sex."
Similar sentiments have been observed by Hope Chigudu, a leading gender activist and one of the founders of
the Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network. "The culture of silence is loud," she observes. When
Shaba started sending her manuscript to publishers, the response from these firms amounted to less than a vote
of confidence. "The initial reactions from publishers were so polarised, and they didn’t seem to know where to
locate it," Shaba says.
As a result, she published the novel herself. A lawyer by training, Shaba hopes that now the book has come out,
a publisher will pick up on it and distribute the work more widely. At present, it can be ordered online. Sales from
the novel will be used to establish a scholarship fund for young Zimbabwean women who have been orphaned
by AIDS. Called the Mama Milazi Scholarship Fund after Shaba’s late grandmother, whom she describes as
fiercely independent and ahead of her time, the fund will enable beneficiaries to embark on training in the
business and information technology fields, amongst others.
Source: Inter Press Service (IPS)
Date: 29 March 2005
Online at: http://www.ipsnews.net/new_nota.asp?idnews=28068
Aids Virus Destroys Immune Cells Fast-studies
Within days of infection, the AIDS virus destroys more than half of the immune cells that might recognize and
help fight it -- a finding that may force a re-evaluation of how to tackle the deadly infection, two teams of U.S.
researchers reported on Sunday. Two separate studies in monkeys showed that SIV, the monkey version of the
human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), attacks CD4 memory T-cells right away and wipes out more than half of
them. "The findings may require a rethink of strategies to design HIV drugs and vaccines," Dr. Mario Roederer
of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and colleagues said in one of two reports published in
The findings will be difficult to replicate in people, because most people do not know exactly when they have
been infected with the AIDS virus, which gradually destroys the immune system, leaving patients vulnerable to
numerous infections. But SIV is a good model and works in a similar way. Both teams worked with monkeys that
they infected with SIV, and then observed what happened to their immune cells. Right away the virus attacked
the CD4 T-cells that had the correct configuration for the virus. Normally during an infection such cells would
recognize and latch onto an invader, helping other components of the immune system destroy it.
But HIV is different because it targets the immune system, and the two studies show how quickly it makes it
impossible for its victims to launch a defense. Roederer's team used new, sensitive tests to show just how the
virus moves so quickly. "Specifically, 30 percent to 60 percent of CD4 memory T-cells throughout the body are
infected by SIV at the peak of infection, and most of these infected cells disappear within four days," they wrote.
Furthermore, our data demonstrate that the depletion of memory CD4 T-cells occurs to a similar extent in all
tissues. As a consequence, over one half of all memory CD4 T-cells in SIV-infected macaques are destroyed
directly by viral infection during the acute phase -- an insult that certainly heralds subsequent immunodeficiency.
This means any attempt to vaccinate against HIV or to provide efficient treatment must stop this process right
Dr. Ashley Haase of the University of Minnesota Medical School and colleagues reported similar findings. Not
only does the virus directly kill the CD4 cells, they found, but it also causes the cells self-destruct. There is no
cure for HIV infection, which killed more than 3 million people globally last year and which infects 39 million
people, according to the United Nations.
Source: Reuters Health via Medline Plus
Date: 28 March 2005
Online at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_23780.html
International Council of Aids Service Organizations (ICASO)
Director of Policy & Communications
Toronto, ON, Canada
We are seeking a passionate and strategic leader to help advance the community voice in the international
response to HIV/AIDS. The International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO) is a global network of
non-governmental and community-based organizations with secretariats in five geographic regions and a
secretariat based in Canada.
ICASO plays a leading role in mobilizing community-based HIV/AIDS advocacy, especially in communities most
affected by the epidemic. ICASO brings the community voice to such global policy forums as the UN General
Assembly Special Session on AIDS (UNGASS); the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and
The Director of Policy and Communications is a new member of the ICASO management team who will ensure
the development and communication of policies to support ICASO’s mission. In collaboration with the ICASO
Board, Executive Director, staff and key partners, this person will play a leading role in:
Policy Development: Research, analysis and development of policy positions for ICASO.
Policy Advocacy: Designing and leading implementation of global strategies to advance ICASO policies.
Developing and nurturing relationships with key stakeholders and international forums. Acting as ICASO
representative as needed.
Communications: Designing and leading implementation of strategies to communicate ICASO’s positions on
global HIV/AIDS issues. Guiding media relations, external relations, and strategies for campaigns, conferences
and events. Acting as ICASO spokesperson as needed.
Publication Coordination: Providing strategic oversight and acting as senior editor for ICASO print and electronic
publications including websites, electronic bulletins, policy publications, and annual reports. Providing editorial
advice as needed on submissions and reports to donors.
The ideal candidate for this position is a strategic thinker with exceptional verbal and written communication
skills. She/he will have a passionate commitment to human rights and social justice. She/he should have at least
five years senior experience in policy development and strategic communications. He/she should be familiar with
the community sector response to HIV/AIDS and knowledgeable about international development issues. He/she
should have a proven track record in media relations and publication coordination.
He/she is a creative, self-directed, results-focused team player. Proficiency in current information technology is
required. Fluency in French or Spanish, in addition to English, is highly desired. A postgraduate degree in a
related area is preferred. The position is based in Toronto and will require some international and domestic
travel. The candidate must have the ability to work in Canada.
ICASO is an equal opportunity employer, proud of its diverse workforce. For more information about ICASO,
please click here
Applicants should send a resume and cover letter by mail, fax or email by April 5, 2005 to:
International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO)
65 Wellesley Street East
Canada M4Y 1G7
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (include “resume” in the subject line of your e-mail)
No phone calls please.
Although all applications are welcomed, only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.
Source: International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO)
Date: 31 March 2005
Online at: http://www.comminit.com/vacancy2218.html
OUR COMMON INTEREST
REPORT OF THE COMMISSION FOR AFRICA
African poverty and stagnation is the greatest tragedy of our time. Poverty on such a scale demands a forceful
response. And Africa – at country, regional, and continental levels – is creating much stronger foundations for
tackling its problems.
Recent years have seen improvements in economic growth and in governance. But Africa needs more of both if
it is to make serious inroads into poverty. To do that requires a partnership between Africa and the developed
world which takes full account of
Africa’s diversity and particular circumstances. For its part, Africa must accelerate reform. And the developed
world must increase and improve its aid, and stop doing those things which hinder Africa’s progress. The
developed world has a moral duty – as well as a powerful motive of self-interest – to assist Africa.
We believe that now is the time when greater external support can have a major impact and this is a vital
moment for the world to get behind Africa’s efforts. The actions proposed by the Commission constitute a
coherent package for Africa. The problems they address are interlocking. They are vicious circles which reinforce
one another. They must be tackled together. To do that Africa requires a comprehensive ‘big push’ on many
fronts at once. Partners must work together to implement this package with commitment, perseverance and
speed, each focusing on how they can make the most effective contribution.
Getting Systems Right:
Governance and Capacity-Building
Africa’s history over the last fifty years has been blighted by two areas of weakness. These have been capacity –
the ability to design and deliver policies; and accountability – how well a state answers to its people.
Improvements in both are first and foremost the responsibility of African countries and people. But action by rich
nations is essential too.
Building capacity takes time and commitment. Weak capacity is a matter of poor systems and incentives, poor
information, technical inability, untrained staff and lack of money. We recommend that donors make a major
investment to improve Africa’s capacity, starting with its system of higher education, particularly in science and
technology. They must help to build systems and staff in national and local governments, but also in pan-African
and regional organisations, particularly the African Union and its NEPAD programme.
Donors must change their behaviour and support the national priorities of African governments rather than
allowing their own procedures and special enthusiasms to undermine the building of a country’s own capacity.
Improving accountability is the job of African leaders. They can do that by broadening the participation of ordinary
people in government processes, in part by strengthening institutions like parliaments, local authorities, trades
unions, the justice system and the media.
Donors can help with this. They can also help build accountable budgetary processes so that the people of Africa
can see how money is raised and where it is going. That kind of transparency can help combat corruption, which
African governments must root out. Developed nations can help in this too. Money and state assets stolen from
the people of Africa by corrupt leaders must be repatriated. Foreign banks must be obliged by law to inform on
Those who give bribes should be dealt with too; and foreign companies involved in oil, minerals and other
extractive industries must make their payments much more open to public scrutiny. Firms who bribe should be
refused export credits. Without progress in governance, all other reforms will have limited impact.
Leaving No-One Out: Investing in People
Poverty is more than just a lack of material things. Poor people are excluded from decision-making and from the
basic services the state ought to provide. Schools and clinics must be available to the poorest people in Africa.
This is an urgent matter of basic
human rights and social justice. But it is also sound economics: a healthy and skilled workforce is a more
productive one, fulfilling their potential with dignity. Investing for economic growth means rebuilding African health
and education systems, many of which are now on the point of collapse. This requires major funding, but it is not
only a question of resources. It is also about delivery and results. These are powerfully strengthened when local
communities are involved in decisions that affect them.
Properly funding the international community’s commitment to Education for All will provide all girls and boys in
sub-Saharan Africa with access to basic education to equip them with skills for contemporary Africa. Secondary,
higher and vocational education, adult learning, and teacher training should also be supported within a balanced
overall education system. Donors need to pay what is needed to deliver their promises – including the cost of
removing primary school fees.
The elimination of preventable diseases in Africa depends above all on rebuilding systems to deliver public
health services in order to tackle diseases such as TB and malaria effectively. This will involve major investment
in staff, training, the development of new medicines, better sexual and reproductive health services and the
removal of fees paid by patients, which should be paid for by donors until countries can afford it. Funding for
water supply and sanitation should be immediately increased, reversing years of decline.
Top priority must be given to scaling up the services needed to deal with the catastrophe of HIV and AIDS which
is killing more people in Africa than anywhere else in the world. But this must be done through existing systems,
rather than parallel new ones. Governments should also be supported to protect orphans and vulnerable
children and other groups who would otherwise be left out of the growth story. Around half of the extra aid we are
recommending should be spent on health, education and HIV and AIDS.
Bold comprehensive action on a scale needed to meet the challenges can only be done through a new kind of
partnership. In the past, contractual and conditional approaches were tried, and failed. What we are suggesting
is a new kind of development, based on mutual respect and solidarity, and rooted in a sound analysis of what
actually works. This can speed up progress, building on recent positive developments in Africa, towards a just
world of which Africa is an integral part.
Full Report at: http://www.commissionforafrica.org/english/report/thereport/cfafullreport.pdf
Source: Commission For Africa
Date: 31 March 2005
Online at: http://www.commissionforafrica.org/english/report/thereport/cfafullreport.pdf