In November, the Food and Agriculture Organisation was just one of many voices warning that food prices have risen to levels last seen at the start of the 2007-2008 crisis. A majority of the countries most exposed to a repeat of that problem are in Africa, where vulnerability to food security is exacerbated by AIDS.
HIV and AIDS
More than 4.6 million South Africans took an HIV test since April, according to Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe.
Speaking at a World AIDS Day event in Mkhondo, Mpumalanga, Motlanthe pointed out that of this number, 800 000 (17 percent) tested positive for HIV.
He explains: "It means that friends, colleagues and families should talk about HIV in their workplaces, homes and communities, and take appropriate action to care for those infected and affected."
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says a generation of babies could be born free of AIDS if the international community step up efforts to provide universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and social protection.
In some parts of South Africa, more than one in three people are HIV positive. ‘Love in the Time of AIDS’ explores transformations in notions of gender and intimacy to try to understand the roots of this virulent epidemic. By living in an informal settlement and collecting love letters, cell phone text messages, oral histories, and archival materials, Mark Hunter details the everyday social inequalities that have resulted in untimely deaths.
“Now is the time to continue the expansion of the South African response to HIV/AIDS”
South Africa is facing a major and mounting financial challenge as it strives to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country. South Africa has 5.7 million people currently infected with the HIV virus, the largest number in the world, and half a million adults and children are becoming newly infected each year (UNAIDS, 2009).
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.
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."
More than 2 000 children are abandoned annually in South Africa because of AIDS, poverty, drug abuse and teenage pregnancies, according to Child Welfare South Africa (CWSA).
The organisation has also revealed that mothers, particularly economic migrants and asylum seekers from neighbouring countries, are abandoning their children in big numbers at hospitals after birth.
The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) study found a 35 percent decline in the rate of new HIV infections between 2002 and 2008.
The study found that 1.3 percent of South Africans aged 15 to 49 were infected annually between 2005 and 2008, compared to 2 percent in the years 2002-2005.
The decline was mostly due to a 60 percent reduction in incidence among young women, aged 15-24.
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.