Archive for August, 2007

31
Aug
07

Papua New Guinea AIDS Crisis May Mirror Africa’s

Aug. 31 (Bloomberg) — Papua New Guinea’s AIDS epidemic may mirror the crisis in Africa as infections surge with more than 75 percent of sufferers unable to access drugs to manage the disease, the United Nations said.

“It could very much become an Africa-type situation if the required services are not in place,” Tim Rwabuhemba, Papua New Guinea coordinator for the United Nations AIDS agency, said in an interview from the capital, Port Moresby. “There is an urgent need for more HIV services across the board here.”

The nation of 6 million people now accounts for 90 percent of the Pacific region’s HIV cases and is one of only four Asia- Pacific countries experiencing an epidemic, according to the UN. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 60 percent of all people living with the HIV virus, a total of more than 25 million people.

HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, appeared in Papua New Guinea in the early 1990s and has spread to the remote highlands, a region where villagers didn’t come into contact with Europeans until the 1930s.

More than half a million Papua New Guineans will be infected with the virus by 2025, resulting in a 13 percent drop in the available workforce and a 1.3 percent decline in the $15 billion economy, AusAID, Australia’s development agency, said.

In 20 years, 117,000 children will have lost their mothers to AIDS and 70 percent of the country’s hospital beds will be needed for patients, it estimates. – click here for the rest of this article

30
Aug
07

Fish ponds are helping in the fight against AIDS

LIFE for Agnes Kanyema is looking up. The retired teacher and her husband are caring for four of their grandchildren, whose parents have all died of AIDS. Their meagre pension is not enough, so they rely on farming to eat and make ends meet. Now, with the help of WorldFish Centre, a non-profit outfit based in Malaysia, Mrs Kanyema also runs a fish pond, which not only provides extra cash and protein but also helps her grow maize and vegetables on her small plot of less than a hectare (2.47 acres). Her pond provides water for crops during droughts and she uses the sediment as fertiliser. The fish and vegetables help feed her family, and she sells the surplus at the local market.

The WorldFish Centre has helped 1,200 families who have lost breadwinners to AIDS to dig and run fish ponds in southern Malawi’s Zomba district. The small landlocked southern African country relies heavily on subsistence farming. But HIV/AIDS, erratic rains, overpopulation and soil erosion are taking a big toll, making it hard for farmers on tiny plots to survive. With Malawi’s main lake overfished, people are losing a big source of protein. In the 1970s they ate 14 kilos of fish per person a year; now they consume just four kilos.- Click here for more

29
Aug
07

If gay men would just stop cruising…

I happened upon this article, “Gay Sex in Public a Major Health Risk ~ Naugle Calls on Homosexuals to Stem the Spread of HIV – Aug 23, 2007“.

“At a news conference at City Hall this week, Jim Naugle, the mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Florida has called on homosexual men to end their public sexual encounters in order to curb the local HIV/AIDS rate. “We want to put a stop to that activity,” he said.

Since his first public comments in July, Naugle has been attacked on all sides for being nearly the only US public figure to oppose on moral grounds the encroachment of homosexual activity in his town.

Now Naugle is in the news again for his determination to clean up Fort Lauderdale’s beaches and tourist spots, that he says are a health threat. The tourist destinations, he says, are being used as “cruising” scenes for homosexual men looking for the anonymous sexual encounters that characterize the “gay” subculture. This activity, he says, is one of the major factors in the spread of the HIV virus in the area.”

This is simply absurd and you should read the rest of the article to see just how backwards this “6 term” mayor is.  From what I understand, the majority of cruisers are closeted men, not openly homosexual men who are honest and comfortable with their sexuality.  Openly homosexual men don’t have to troll around in park bathrooms an such.  It’s a shame that this public official is targeting homosexual men as a source of the spread of HIV.  I would hope that the attention that this story has gotten has forced him to become more aware and educated about the spread of HIV/Aids and made him more tolerant of homosexuals.

26
Aug
07

HIV positive children thrown out of school in India

There have been a disturbing number of stories involving children and HIV discrimination in the news…all over the world…lately.  It’s a very very disturbing trend.  Here is another example.

Parents have demanded that a Baruipur primary school throw out children suspected to be HIV-
positive. The West Bengal Board of Primary Education has, however, stood its ground and refused to give in to
the demand.

The incident is a virtual repeat of an episode in a remote Kerala village, where HIV-positive children were ostracised by parents and their wards last year.

The vicious whisper campaign against the children was started about a fortnight ago by a local goon at Gobindapur village, 25 km from Kolkata. He incited some villagers into demanding the ouster of the students. These ‘HIV-positive’ students are residents of a home run by an NGO.

Things came to a head about a week ago, when some parents submitted a signed memorandum to the school authorities, demanding that the HIV-positive children be removed.

“We cannot allow our wards to study with HIV-positive kids. They are a threat and will infect our children. The school must throw them out, failing which we will withdraw our children,” the letter to the headmaster stated.

Visit The Times of India for the rest of this article 

24
Aug
07

Requiring HIV tests for pregnant women

NewsObserver.com reports that North Carolina is considering a moved that will require all pregnant women in their third trimester of pregnancy to be tested for HIV if they have not already been tested.  Newborns who are brought into medical facilities for whom HIV status is not known will also be tested under the proposed plan.

In South Africa researchers have called for a debate on mandatory HIV testing for pregnant women and newborn children.  An article in the American Journal of Public Health by two former University of the Witwatersrand bioethicists says that between 11 000 and 15 000 babies could be protected against HIV each year if there were a 25% increase in the number of pregnant women tested for the virus.  Click here for more info.

23
Aug
07

Aids spreading though human trafficking in Asia says UN

Reuters reports that the United Nations said Wednesday that  the trafficking of an estimated 300,000 women and children across Asia each year, many forced into prostitution, is helping spread HIV/Aids.

Women and children are most vulnerable to trafficking because of poverty, gender inequality and rights imbalances, said Caitlin Wiesen-Antin, HIV/AIDs regional coordinator Asia and Pacific for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“Both human trafficking and HIV greatly threaten human development and security, she told the International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific being hosted in the Sri Lankan capital.

“Trafficking … also contributes to the spread of HIV by significantly increasing the vulnerability of trafficked persons to infection,” she added, publishing a UNDP report on human trafficking and HIV that focuses on Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

“The link between human trafficking and HIV/AIDS has only been identified fairly recently. Neither HIV/AIDS nor human trafficking have been integrated or mainstreamed adequately, either at policy or programmatic level,” Wiesen-Antin said.

Major human trafficking routes run between Nepal and India and between Thailand and neighbours like Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. Many of the victims are young teenage girls.

UNAIDS estimates 5.4 million people were living with HIV in the Asia Pacific region in 2006, with anywhere between 140,000 and 610,000 people dying from AIDS-related illnesses.

22
Aug
07

China, Aids, and the Olympics

Medindia.com | China’s Battle With HIV/AIDS – Olympics In The Way
China’s Ministry of Health (MOH) has bad news. Unsafe sex is now touted as the main cause of new HIV infections in the country, overtaking drug abuse through injections for the first time. The finding is important more so as it now means that the virus is spreading from high-risk groups to the general public.

The report released jointly by the MOH and the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention gives that of the 70,000 new HIV infections recorded in 2005, almost half were through sexual contact. Figures for 2006 are not available.

Says Gao Qi, a project manager with Beijing-based China HIV/AIDS Information Network: “It’s the first time since 1989, when the first HIV infection was detected, for sex to top the transmission list nationwide.” He says that the new trend demonstrates further spread of the deadly virus and a tougher war against the epidemic.

In response to the challenge, the Chinese government is taking measures such as highlighting HIV intervention and prevention among sex workers. Sex workers are said to be the “bridge population” linking those at most risk for HIV with the general population.

Meanwhile, double standards are being acted out too. Authorities are accordingly cracking down on groups that support AIDS patients and orphans, in a bid to play down China’s flaws before the news media’s glare, as preparations for next year’s Olympic Games begin.

In one incident, an activist in Henan province, where the nation’s AIDS crisis hit early claims police ordered him out of his office Thursday and suggested that he vacate the area for his own safety.

“They said our organization was illegal and our activities were illegal,” says Zhu Zhaowu of the China Orchid AIDS Project’s office in Kaifeng in central Henan province.

In the same city, police stopped a conference for AIDS activists that had been scheduled for Aug. 19-20 by another nonprofit group, known as Grassroots.

That is not all. Earlier this month, police had reportedly banned two other AIDS conferences in the southern city of Guangzhou — one that was to bring legal scholars from three continents and another at Sun Yatsen University.

These barricades are disturbing foreign experts who seek to help China cope with the rising challenges of combating HIV infection.

Says Meg Davis, director of Asia Catalyst, a New York-based group and co-sponsor of the canceled Guangzhou legal conference: “Nothing about it makes any sense.

“China is at a crossroads both in terms of its fight against AIDS and its very new and fragile civil society,” Davis adds.

Meanwhile, some domestic activists stress that China’s leaders are bearing down on HIV/AIDS programs because they worry that international media attention in the run-up to next summer’s Olympic Games will focus on aspects of China that leaders find embarrassing.

“They hope that there will be no unharmonious voices during the Olympics period,” quotes Hu Jia, an activist and co-founder of a nonprofit Beijing AIDS group.

Yet, legal experts say this crackdown could backfire on China’s efforts to combat HIV infection.

“If you suppress human rights, what happens is that people vulnerable to HIV are scared to be tested or seek treatment,” warns Mark Heywood, founder of South Africa’s AIDS Law Project and chairman of the UNAIDS Human Rights Reference Group, a body offering advice on the global epidemic.