New Twist in South Africa's AIDS War

Authorities and health experts say South Africans living with AIDS are being robbed of their lifesaving drugs so that they can be mixed with marijuana and smoked.

The concoction is called ‘whoonga’ -- less a word than an exclamation -- and it adds a bizarre twist to the war on HIV/AIDS in the world's worst-affected country just as it embarks on a massive distribution of antiretrovirals.

AIDS Halves Swazi Life Expectancy – MSF

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), warning of a health emergency in Swaziland, says the twin epidemics of AIDS and tuberculosis are ravaging that country, helping to halve life expectancy to 31 years.

The Geneva-headquartered medical charity points out that, "The co-epidemic has contributed substantially to a halving of life expectancy within two decades - from 60 years in the 1990s to 31 in 2007."

MSF Suspends Work in South Sudan

Aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says it has been forced to suspend work in a volatile part of South Sudan because of attacks against their staff, as violence between rival tribes surges in the area.

The organisation says that armed men stole medical equipment from one of its health clinics twice this month in Jonglei state, adding that staff members have also been attacked while delivering aid.

In a statement on its website, the organisation is calling on armed groups to respect its neutrality so it can resume providing aid.

South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence, Behaviour and Communication Survey, 2008

South Africa’s first national, household zero-prevalence survey of HIV and AIDS was conducted in 2002. A second survey was completed in 2005 and this, the third, in 2008.

This report provides an analysis of trends across the three surveys and begins to map the ways in which the shape of the pandemic in South Africa has changed since 2002. Indicators for assessing mid-term progress made in implementing South Africa’s National Strategic Plan on HIV and AIDS, 2007–2011 are also provided.

Scientists Proclaim Breakthrough in HIV Prevention

Scientists have proclaimed a breakthrough in research into the use of an antiretroviral microbicide which they say could prevent more than 500 000 new HIV infections in South Africa alone over the next decade.

The scientists say that an experiment with a trial group of South African women shows that those who used a vaginal gel containing tenofovir, an antiretroviral drug, were 39 percent less likely to become infected with HIV during sex than those who did not use it.

NGOs, COSATU, Criticise AIDS Funding Cuts

Now is not the time to cut funding for HIV/AIDS. This is the message from the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), and the World Aids Campaign.

These organisations, together with Section27 and the Children's Rights Centre, among others, will be holding a march in Sandton on 17 June to the United States consulate, where they will hand over a memorandum calling on the US to reverse cuts on funding for HIV treatment.

Appeal for Donations to Save Children Hospital

RED Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, is appealing for any donation towards upgrading the specialist surgical ward (D1) which handles about 180 admissions a month.

In a press statement, the hospital says, “Hospital staff strive to provide the best possible medical, surgical and nursing care with the shortest hospitalisation possible. To achieve this effectively and efficiently ward D1 urgently requires an upgrade.”

Health Services for the EC Community

According to MTN South Africa Foundation, access to healthcare is of critical importance to the development of the community.

The head of MTN SA Foundation, Eunice Maluleke, points out that, “Good health, dependable infrastructure, quality education and opportunities for entrepreneurship is all necessary for individuals, families and ultimately, the stability of the entire community.”

Taking Action Against HIV/AIDS

‘Taking Action Against HIV/AIDS’ is a handbook for parliamentarians on taking action against HIV and AIDS. This Handbook is both a call to action for parliamentary leadership and a reference book to which parliamentarians and their staff may turn for information and guidance on specific issues of importance in the response to HIV. The handbook provides many illustrations of good practice by legislatures and gives examples of leadership by individual parliamentarians.


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