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.
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."
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.
‘Legal Grounds: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in African Commonwealth Courts, Volume II’ is a compilation of case summaries and analytical highlights that draws attention to the interpretation and application of human rights norms by courts in African Commonwealth countries. It focuses on issues pertaining to reproductive and sexual health and rights, including gender-based violence, marriage-related gender discrimination, validity of customary and religious marriages, property inheritance and distribution, abortion and claims of fetal interests, and HIV discrimination.
The HIV Prevention Research Unit (HPRU), Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Centre for HIV/AIDS Networking (HIVAN), are hosting a discussion forum on the topic ‘Getting Up-to-Date on Children and HIV: Same Old Story – Or a New Story?’ on 25 May 2010 in Durban.
The broad realities of children in relation to HIV remain largely unchanged; however exciting developments are emerging which provide opportunities for all of us to transform the current challenges into more humane lives for all people including children.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria says a world where all children are born free of HIV infection is possible in only five years if donors continue to fund global efforts to combat the virus.
The fund states that in addition tuberculosis (TB) transmission will be halved by 2015 and malaria will be eliminated as a public health problem by 2020 if it increases funding for its programmes.
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.
The Ugandan Law Reform Commission formulated a new HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill for 2009, which has recently received widespread criticism from human rights groups across the globe. The Bill is said to be a dangerous approach to already discredited views on how to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS in Africa.
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.
The global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic has been unparalleled. Between 2007 and 2008, funding increased from US$11.3 billion to US$ 13.7 billion globally (UNAIDS, Fact Sheet AIDS Funding 2008-09). However, the global economic crisis is having dire consequences for HIV and AIDS funding. These effects are felt particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, which has the highest levels of HIV and AIDS infection in the world, with approximately 25 million people infected.