Health

loveLife Comments on the 2010/11 Budget

The pessimist in us all waited with baited breath to criticise the Finance Minister and point fingers at the lack of response towards social and economic drivers stifling the growth of South Africa and its future aka our young people. However, the 2010 budget speech by Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, presented what seems like a good balance between economic development imperatives and social services. This not only made the pessimist take a backseat as we listened in anticipation, but caught the attention of at least every NGO, NPO and company striving to uplift the country.

National Council Against Smoking Comments on the 2010/11 Budget

Tobacco taxes – increase not enough

Same old, same old, policy. Another opportunity to promote public health and raise government revenues squandered.

Predictably, the tax on cigarettes increased by a meagre R1,24 per pack in today’s budget. In his first Budget, the Finance Minister has obdurately stuck to a policy which keeps tobacco taxes low and so favours the tobacco companies at the expense of public health and government revenues.

OUT Launches ‘Know Your Status Day’

OUT LGBT Well-being, a gay health rights organisation, has initiated a campaign ‘Know your status Day’, which it hopes will effectively respond to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Prism HIV and STI nurse at OUT LGBT Well-being’s Elmie Munday points out that the aim of ‘Know Your Status Day’ is to increase the need for people to go for regular HIV testing.

Call to Include Circumcision in AIDS Fight

Scientists are calling for the speedy inclusion of male circumcision in the comprehensive HIV prevention package. This despite questions raised about human rights and the confusing message it might send to people.

Studies have shown that male circumcision reduces the risk of contracting HIV in heterosexual men by more than 50 percent if done correctly. Work is being done on the policy to include circumcision in the HIV National Strategic Plan (NSP), but there are ethical issues around it.

Nkosi’s Haven Village Launched on World AIDS Day

The feisty red-head and dedicated HIV and AIDS activist, Gail Johnson, marked World AIDS Day with the launch of a new HIV/AIDS haven.

Johnson says that, “When purchasing this village, the board of directors were adamant that we create a new lifestyle community where our residents will benefit from complete holistic care and contribute to the sustainability of the project.”

She says mothers require capacity-building in order for them to be reintegrated into society.

Zuma Unveils New Push to Fight HIV/AIDS

President Jacob Zuma has announced a raft of policy changes to provide HIV treatment to some groups of patients earlier in the course of their disease, taking South Africa a step closer to new guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation.

The development is significant as it will oblige the government to extend treatment to many more people than it is at the moment, increasing the pressure to manage scarce resources more effectively.

“Let the politicisation and endless debates about HIV and AIDS stop,” says Zuma.

I Smile, Half

I smile, half
at the HIV-Positive
t-shirted fellow
leaning at a pole
on my morning-way
to Lansdowne station

I smile, half
at the 3 motorists
ignoring the stop-street
on their morning-way
quite casual-like

I smile, half
at the smokers-male
on their morning-way
to ruining their health
quite casual-like

I smile, half
grimacing actually
at the fact of December 1
World AIDS Day (again)
quite casual-like

HIV/AIDS

NGOs Warn Against Criminalising HIV Transmission

Ugandan civil society organisations have warned against criminalising the transmission of HIV/AIDS.

Action Aid Uganda’s Stella Mukasa, notes that, “Criminalising the transmission of the disease invokes stigma, discrimination and deters voluntary testing and access to treatment.”

Mukasa argues that applying criminal law to HIV transmission could result in women being disproportionately prosecuted and increase domestic violence.

UNAIDS Praises SA Response to AIDS

The United Nations AIDS Programme (UNAIDS) says South Africa has more people living with AIDS than any other country, but it also has a new government determined to end the crisis.

UNAIDS executive, Michel Sidibe, "If I am not in South Africa for World AIDS Day, I don't know where I should be."

Sidibe maintains that President Jacob Zuma is committed to making change happen, praising the Department of Health for moving quickly to distribute more AIDS drugs and for working with the UN to improve ways of using scarce resources.

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