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The Network: HEALTH NETWORK



AIDS NEWS: December 28, 2000
Collected by UNAIDS Philippines
Received through the PinoyRH egroup

OTHER STORIES:


30 percent of condom-users contract HIV
East African Standard, 15 Dec 2000

Over 30 percent of people who use condoms contract AIDS, Catholic Archbishop John Njenga has said. The Mombasa Catholic head also urged the government to allocate funds to churches for the campaign against AIDS. Speaking at his Nyali residence, Njenga said manufacturers of condoms were unrealistic as they at times made poor quality. "It is for this reason that the Catholic Church remains stubborn on the issue of the use of condoms," he said.

Njenga recently celebrated 30 years as bishop also claimed the use of condoms had greatly contributed to the spread of AIDS. He said the advocacy of the use of condoms by religious leaders were appalling "as they very well know the effect of their campaign".

He said recent statistic by the international health experts made available to the church indicate that people using the condoms were not completely secure as some of them were of low quality. Njenga said the Catholic Church would not revise decision to oppose the use of condoms.

He said the advocacy to use condom encouraged immorality as most people "now indulge in immorality because they know they are using a safety devise." He said the only way to control the spread of AIDS was faithfulness among partners, abstaining from premarital sex and abandonment of "primitive and dangerous" cultural beliefs. He said the Constituency AIDS Committee's (CACs) funds would have been in safer hands if they were handled by the clergy. Njenga, however, lauded the Government for keeping MPs away from management of the funds.

He urged religious leaders to be at the forefront in the AIDS campaign since by so doing they would be exercising direct responsibility given to them by the Lord. Meanwhile, matatu operators contribute to over 15 percent of the spread of AIDS in Kenya, a workshop heard yesterday. This was said during Matatu Touts HIV Sensitisation Workshop at a Mombasa hotel. Ms. Diana Ngombo, International Centre for Reproductive Health (ICRH), said matatu men contribute to the spread of AIDS due their attitude, which she termed as "extremely negative." The project manager of ICRH, Dr. Mark Hawken, said matatu operators had been targeted for the spread of the AIDS awareness campaign because of their constant interaction with various members of the public.

He said matatu operators had been neglected in the campaign against AIDS "yet they were the best people to use." The workshop was organised by the ICRH and funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Family Health international (FHI) and Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH). During the functions, the matatu operators and the ICRH resolved to paint anti-AIDS message on all matatus in Coast Province by displaying sticker with the message outside matatus.

Other measures will include playing AIDS awareness music and lectures in matatu with touts and conductors communicating personally to passenger about the dangers of AIDS.

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WHO agitates for more condom use
Daily News, 14 Dec 2000

More people using family planning needs to know about the added benefit of condoms as an effective barrier against infection, in order to make an informed, free choice on their personal contraceptive method, say the World Health Organization (WHO), the joint United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). For those millions of women who already use effective family planning other than condom, this may mean adding condom use to their chosen family planning method.

These United Nation agencies urge that more reproductive health counselors clearly communicate to their clients that many excellent contraceptive methods do not offer any protection whatsoever against sexually transmitted infections. The promotion of condom as both family planning and protection for those against infection for those who need it should be ensured in all family planning programmes. "The successes of family planning programmes in reducing unwanted pregnancies have unfortunately not been matched by a reduction in sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which are on the rise throughout the world," said Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtlend, Director-General of WHO.

Currently, more than 340 million curable STIs occur each year. To that number can be added many million more currently incurable viral STI, including more than five million HIV infections each year. Male and female condoms are the only family planning methods currently available, which provide dual protection, when used consistently and correctly.

Dual protection may be particularly important for certain individual such as:

* Sexually active young people;
* Men and women (and their partners) who have
   high-risk sexual behaviour;
* Sexually active people in setting with a high
   prevalence of HIV and other STIs;
* Sex workers and their clients; and
* Those who already have HIV or an STI, and their
   partners.

WHO and its partners recommend a number of remedial measures to promote the condom. Among them, family planning and STI/HIV prevention service providers and counselors need to be trained about dual protection, so they can inform clients and promote dual protection when needed.

Many family planning counselors, concerned about incorrect and inconsistent use of condoms, favour and promote other contraceptive methods. One study found that only 12 per cent of new family planning clients in Kenya and only seven per cent in Zimbabwe heard about the condom and its unique advantage in protecting against STI/HIV. Even informed women may not persist with condom use. After the initial stage of a relationship, some women who use, for instant, both a hormonal contraceptive and condom, no longer insist on partner's condom use. In so doing they became vulnerable to infections. In promoting dual protection, a special effort needs to be made to reach out to and educate:

* Men, the traditional condom users, and
* Young people, especially those aged 15-24 who
   account for half of all newly acquired HIV
   infections.

As men are not the usual users of family planning service, creative ways of reaching them to convey the dual importance of condom will need to be used, such as sporting events and through the media.

The female condom may also be helpful in protecting against both infection and unplanned pregnancy but its price, nearly 10 times that of male condoms and lack of availability have limited its use. In order to ultimately empower women, research is need on ways to make the female condom more accessible and affordable, as well as to develop female-controlled microbicides.

A greater array of products offering dual protection is clearly needed, but for now significantly more attention and promotion of the one effective dual protection method currently available, the male condom, is strongly urged in family planning clinics.

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Plea over inmates with AIDS
Daily Nation, 15 Dec 2000

The prison act needs to be changed to allow prisoners who contract HIV in prison to serve the rest of their sentence at home. The new Commissioner of prisons, Mr. Abraham Kamakil, yesterday said that the new law, through the act, was dormant and needed to be applied to stem the spread of the disease in prisons, which he said had overwhelmed prisons authorities. He said that an overall change in prison policy was needed to cope with the disease. Prison warders, he said, were at high risk of contracting the disease due to the nature of their job. "We have situations where a prison officer is handcuffed to a prisoner. We have situations where prison officers guard people with infectious diseases in hospitals, exposing them to possible infection," he said.

He was addressing a workshop on HIV/AIDS information dissemination at the Agricultural Finance Corporation Training Centre in Karen.

He said that whereas there was genuine fear that released prisoners were likely to spread the disease, prisons in the country were unable to cope with large number of inmates who had contracted the virus.

He said the yearly medical financial allocation give to the 87 prisons in the country, with a population of 30,000 inmates, was grossly inadequate in coping with the disease. Most of the prisoners, he said, go into prison while infected. "Only one percent of the prisoners contract the disease," he said.

But Dr. G.M. Baltazar, an epidemiologist with Ministry of Health, said homosexuality was rampant in the country's prisons. "Prisoners, because they are confined together, will continue having abnormal sexual relations where we like it or not," he said.

He said the same was happening in boys and girls boarding schools in the country. He said that 50-70 per cent of blood donated from prisons in the country during the national blood donation day was found to be contaminated. The challenge was to enact laws that could help minimize the risk of prisoners contracting the disease while in prison, he said.

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Kenya Rules Out Condoms For Prisoners
Pana, 15 Dec 00

The Kenyan government has rejected calls by anti-AIDS and human rights campaigners to make condoms available to prisoners countrywide.

Prisons Commissioner Abraham Kamakil said that doing so would legalise sex in the country's prisons.

"The Prisons Act precludes sexual activities in prison, so supplying inmates with condoms means we're condoning the activities," he told an HIV/AIDS workshop in Nairobi Thursday night. Instead, Kamakil called for a review of the act to allow inmates who contract HIV/AIDS to complete their terms at home.

He said the law under the act is "dormant" on the scourge and needs to be applied to stem the spread of the disease in prisons which, had overwhelmed the prisons authorities.

He admitted that sodomy and homosexuality are rampant in Kenya's prisons.

Dr. G.M. Baltazar, a Nairobi epidemiologist, also admitted that homosexuality is rampant in the prisons.

"Prisoners, because they are confined together, will continue having abnormal sexual relations, whether we like it or not," he said.

This state of affairs, made worse by the appalling conditions generally, has prompted calls by a number of HIV/AIDS and human rights lobby groups to make condoms available to inmates. The groups argued that, with a total of 87 state prisons holding 30,000 prisoners, it was not possible to contain the spread of the deadly disease in the prisons.

After contracting the disease while in prison, the inmates would become a greater health risk once released, they contended.

"Between 50 percent and 70 percent of blood donated from the prisons in the country during the national annual blood donation week is found to contain the virus," they said.

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Singapore: 1 in 4 AIDS Patients May Go Blind
Straits Times, 19 Dec 2000

They have a viral eye infection, Cytomegalovirus retinitis, that can cause them to lose their sight. However, the disease can be treated.

By Theresa Tan

About one out of four AIDS patients gets a viral eye infection that leads to blindness. The disease, Cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis, which is caused by a herpes virus, can be treated, said Dr. Gerard Chuah of the HIV opthalmology clinic at the Communicable Disease Centre (CDC).

But many patients do not seek treatment because they are afraid of what it involves and cannot afford to pay for it, he said.

The clinic has screened some 350 patients for this disease in the five years since it was set up and treated about 150 for it.

The most common - and cheapest - treatment is to inject an anti-viral drug, ganciclovir, directly into the eye under local anaesthetic.

"When you literally inject the drug into the eye, many patients are fearful. There's a mental block," said Dr. Chuah, 37.

Each injection costs around $30. Patients need to have one twice a week during the first three weeks of treatment.

Afterwards, they need it just once a week.

Even then, treatment can come up to $200 a month easily, a princely sum, especially if the patients have had to stop working, he said.

CMV is the second most common infection AIDS patients get, after pneumocystis cariini pneumonia, which attacks usually the lung and could be fatal if not treated.

CMV infects more than 80 per cent of the population at some point in their lives, usually causing mild flu-like illnesses or no symptoms at all, Dr Chuah said.

But AIDS patients have so little resistance that CMV can destroy their retinas, the light-sensitive structure at the back of the eyeball responsible for vision, and they risk going blind.

At the start, they may see black dots floating about, or complain of poor vision.

Dr. Lim Tock Han, who started the clinic in 1995, runs the clinic now with Dr. Chuah.

The anti-viral drug, ganciclovir, can also be injected intravenously. This costs about $1,500 a month. A third is an eye implant, which costs about US$4,000 (about S$7,000).

The cost convinces those who do get treated to choose the eye injections despite their fear, Dr. Chuah said.

Some patients refuse treatment until they go blind in one eye, said Dr. Chuah. He added: "Once they lose sight in one eye, they will be very motivated to go for treatment. "Most of them fear blindness more than they fear death. Many have basically resigned to the fact that they will die, but no one prepared them that they might go blind as well."

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Plans to educate mothers about not spreading AIDS to children
The New Vision, 19 Dec 2000

As long as AIDS remain incurable, educating mothers about how not to transmit the disease to their children is a key way of halting its spread, the head of the Unicef children agency said. "We believe passionately that until a cure is found, the best cure is education," Carol Bellamy, executive director of Unicef, said in an interview with Reuters. Of the five million people infected with HIV/AIDS each year, around 600,000 of those cases were transmitted from the mother to child, often through childbirth itself, Bellamy said after speaking at the launch in Berlin of a United Nation report on the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Unicef has been working alongside non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to develop pilot projects to address the problem of mother-to-child transmission (MTC). "We've been particularly focusing on prevention through peer-to-peer counseling and training and getting more information," Bellamy said. Unicef is one of the seven bodies, which make up UNAIDS, the UN agency that spearheads the global battle against AIDS and which published the report. It showed the disease has infected 36 million people worldwide, including 5.3 million new cases this year, which was 50% higher than medical experts a decade ago had predicted.

There were some signs of stabilization, however. Unicef is particularly anxious not to roll back years of good work in developing countries about convincing mothers of the benefits of breast-feeding. They would not want to cause spread panic among mothers that HIV/AIDS can be caused by breastfeeding. "The statistics for areas most heavily infection are that, one third of the mothers may be infected. Of those, a third might transmit to their child. And a third of the third might be through breastfeeding,"

In order to avoid women in developing countries abandoning breast-feeding enmasses, a comprehensive system of testing has to be introduced, but Bellamy said this can be difficult as in many countries there is no tradition of testing. "How do you explain testing? The main success story so far has been in Thailand, where the policy of education and testing is starting to bear fruit. Thailand has really made an impact in rural and urban areas in terms of reducing transmission and is probably the biggest success." There are sighs the programme is working in Botswana and Rwanda, she said. (Reuters)

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Some gay men accused of dangerous 'barebacking'
Press Association, 20 Dec 2000

Health promotions aimed at the gay community may actually be encouraging unsafe sex, researchers have claimed. Investigators found evidence of a backlash against the safe sex message, which had led some gay men to ignore warnings about HIV and Aids, giving rise to an unprotected sex craze called "barebacking".

Researchers found that one of the chief reasons for the change in attitude was a desire to rebel against authority. Other factors involved were psychological feelings of independence and autonomy.

Dr. Michele Crossley, from the University of Manchester, presented her findings today at the British Psychological Society's London conference. She said: "Simplistic attempts at health promotion may have exacerbated the problem by failing to bring such psychological dynamics to the public domain, and thus creating a 'taboo' of unsafe sex."

Dr. Crossley's team analysed data from 23 interviews with gay men, 38 interviews with agencies participating in a health promotion project, a focus group, and internet sites.

Another study by Dr. Jonathan Elford and colleagues from the Royal Free Hospital, London, found that gay men who had undergone three or more HIV tests were more likely to indulge in risky sexual behaviour. They also had an increased incidence of HIV infection.

A negative HIV test result appeared to make some men lose their inhibitions and take more risks, said the researchers.

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New Turner U.N. Grants Target AIDS, Energy Needs
Atlanta Journal, 22 Dec 00

Atlanta businessman Ted Turner, who has pledged $1 billion of his own money over 10 years to the United Nations, is directing the bulk of his latest round of international philanthropy toward reducing the spread of HIV and AIDS among young people in Africa.

The United Nations Foundation - the organization Turner set up three years ago to disburse the funds - announced Wednesday that it is investing $16 million in its eighth round of grants, with more than $12 million of that going to AIDS prevention projects in eight southern African countries hit hardest by the AIDS pandemic.

"We are extremely proud of this strong package of com- munity-based projects addressing the social, economic and health challenges associated with HIV/AIDS in Africa," said Tim Wirth, the foundation's president.

The fall 2000 round of grants - which brings Turner's total donation so far to more than $317 million - also will provide more than $1.7 million to a cause dear to the heart of the CNN founder and lifelong outdoorsman: the environment.

The foundation will help the U.N. meet the energy needs of developing countries through three grants and will support energy efficiency investments in the largest greenhouse gas-emitting nations through two others.

The total grant amount for this cycle is considerably lower than in past cycles, in part due to a smaller number of proposals presented to the foundation's board.

"We try to be thematic in our round of grants, and this time we targeted solicitations strictly from projects working on HIV/AIDS and energy efficiency," foundation spokesman David Harwood said. "It just so happened that U.N. projects on energy are just getting started, so there were fewer proposals submitted. But if you notice the scale of funding for HIV/AIDS projects, you will see there are a fair amount that we are supporting." The list of grants includes:

$2.3 million over 18 months to the U.N. Development Program, U.N. Population Fund and U.N. Children's Fund for a project to combat HIV/AIDS in South Africa that involves youth in the design of prevention programs.

$1.5 million over 18 months to the U.N. Population Fund to improve reproductive health services for youths displaced by war in Angola.

$1.3 million over 18 months to coordinate U.N. efforts in Lesotho to improve reproductive health care and education for adolescent girls and to reduce by 5 percent the rate of HIV/AIDS in the country's hardest hit districts by 2003.

$1.1 million over 18 months to coordinate U.N. efforts in Swaziland to develop a comprehensive AIDS prevention program in the country's four regions, improve counseling and testing and provide care for people living with the disease.

$2 million over 18 months to an Adolescent Program Initiative in southern Africa run by the U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS that will link nine county-level projects and attract resources for community-level work on HIV/AIDS.

$1.6 million over four years to the U.N. Development Program country team in Brazil to provide renewable energy to poor rural communities while reducing greenhouse emissions.

$75,000 over six months to the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs in China to address the energy needs of the rural poor.

$100,000 over six months to the World Bank to enable large commercial investments in energy efficiency projects in Brazil, China and India - three of the largest greenhouse gas-emitting developing countries.

$4 million over two years to the U.N. Children's Fund to implement in eight developing countries a project on the feasibility of specific drug regimens to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS from mothers to infants.

$821,000 over two years to the U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS for its worldwide initiative to close the gap between the global need and the resources available to combat AIDS.

$940,000 over two years to the World Health Organization, which, through its Global Polio Eradication Initiative, aims to eliminate the transmission of the polio virus and certify the world polio-free by 2005.

$339,000 over two years to the U.N. Department of Public Information to produce news items for U.N. Television to educate the global public about the organization's worldwide efforts.

$450,000 over three years to the U.N. Secretariat for its Global Compact initiative to promote global citizenship by advancing universal human values in business operations.

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Legislators and bureaucrats should work in tandem to combat AIDS
Indian Express, 25 Dec 2000

MUMBAI, DECEMBER 24: Legislators and bureaucrats need to play a dominant and integral role in the fight against AIDS. Successful implementation of HIV/AIDS programmes must depend on the joint efforts of the law makers and the executors. Elected representatives should take bolder steps to tackle HIV/AIDS, said renowned HIV/AIDS activist Justice Micheal Kirby.

A recipient of the Australian Human Rights Medal and named laureate of the UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education, Justice Kirby held a one-hour talk to sensitise bureaucrats and legislators in the legal and ethical issues relating to the disease. Addressing a select group of bureaucrats at Mantralaya on Friday, Justice Kirby spelt out that the bureaucracy and elected representatives had to work in tandem to combat the epidemic.

Highlighting the steps taken by the Australians to reduce the incidence of the disease, he cautioned the gathering of the worsening consequences if HIV/AIDS programmes were implemented without fervour.

The programme was organised by the Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society in association with Lawyers Collective (HIV/AIDS unit). According to the latest statistics more than 14 million people (the world over) have died due to complications of AIDS while an estimated 47 million are affected with HIV.

Out of the 35 lakh identified cases of HIV/AIDS in the country, 25 lakh are in Maharashtra. Mumbai itself has over 50 per cent of the HIV/AIDS cases in the state. Speaking to Newsline, the minister for Public Health, Drugs, Medical Education and Family Planning Digvijay Khanvilkar said, "Our programmes will now target the youth population. These will be co-ordinated programmes between the various departments. These programmes aim to educate students from standard IX onwards and encourage them to have open discussions about HIV/AIDS."

The state government have plans to promote its HIV/AIDS awareness drive in the schools and colleges in the state. The implementation of the same will commence from New Year's Day, informed Khanvilkar.

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What's New?

HEALTH NETWORK NEWS:
December 2000 news clippings, collected by UNAIDS, posted at PinoyRH egroup.

LGBT NETWORK NEWS:
GLARE says TSE!... Tsugiin si Erap!

FEATURES:
Youth primer on AIDS prevention and control, all about the HIV antibody test, sexually transmitted infections and more.

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