November 22, 2004

Initiatives to raise AIDs awareness

Writing about web page http://www.timesonline.co.uk

For this entry I have chosen to highlight the increasingly common theme of raising public awareness of AIDs and HIV.

To do this I have highlighted the latest initiative being carried out by writer, Nadine Gordimer

The following is an extrat from a recent interview

She talks of the damage being done through the loss of skilled people to Aids, how women are most vulnerable to the virus and how the book’s publishers around the world have all agreed to forgo a profit. She is flying to New York to launch it with great fanfare alongside Kofi Annan. “We looked at what musicians like Bono and Geldof have done and thought writers must do something too. But we’re not publishing an Aids tract. That wouldn’t sell and the whole point is to make money.”

She goes on to comment on the current theories within the S African government that follows on from a previous entry. They are as follows,

Moreover, we have a health minister who recommends eating beetroot and the African potato as Aids cures. Just last week the deputy health minister, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, told parliament that sangomas (witch doctors) may well know the cure for Aids and that “western medicine could take a few lessons” from them. Aids activists say there is no hope of dealing with the crisis effectively while government encourages such confusion and obscurantism. The problem is not lack of money: the government hugely underspends its Aids budget and has often made it difficult for foreign donors to help the Aids effort.

By highlighting such problems she is not only aiming to raise funds for the treatment of AIDs but also raise the public's awareness to it.


October 26, 2004

AIDs in the past – S Africa's inconsistency in tackling the AIDs problem

Writing about web page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_South_Africa#The_AIDS_Crisis

The following entry is an important example of how the AIDs crisis was viewed in recent history. In this case study of S Africa the views of president Thabo Mbeki are identified, with his denial that there was any scientific basis for AIDs.

A 1999 survey indicated that 22.4% of women who attended public antenatal clinics were HIV-positive. Government response to the epidemic has been inconsistent, with president Thabo Mbeki and other prominent members of the ANC government denying any scientific basis for AIDS and actively fighting legal efforts to provide free antiretroviral medication to HIV-infected individuals. Mbeki has indicated that he believes that poverty, not HIV, is the cause of AIDS; that many people who supposedly die of the disease are actually being poisoned by their antiretroviral medication; and that such medication is created by scientists in the employ of pharmaceutical companies that wish to experiment on Africans. [6] (http://www.virusmyth.net/aids/news/guardanc.htm). Without access to antiretovirals, and much of the population being in ignorance about the nature of the disease, the death rate has soared in recent years.
South Africa held a National AIDS Conference in Durban in August of 2003. Shortly before the conference, the ANC government announced that it was considering withdrawing legal approval for use of the anti-AIDS drug Nevirapine, widely accepted by the medical community as an effective means of greatly reducing mother-to-child HIV transmission rates. Anti-AIDS activists, such as the Treatment Action Campaign, were outraged at this announcement, and following the massive public outcry, the government hastily announced that it will reverse its prior stance on antiretroviral medications and create a plan to provide them to infected individuals by September of 2003.
Mbeki's views on the causes and treatment of AIDS have also been subject to criticism, most notably his defence (April 2000) of a small group of dissident scientists who claim that HIV is not the cause of the disease (See AIDS reappraisal). Though applauded by AIDS activists for its successful legal defence (April 2001) of cheaper locally-produced AIDS drugs against action brought by transnational pharmaceutical companies, his government has been accused of failing to respond adequately to the epidemic, which is now believed to affect one in ten of South Africa's population.

South Africa now has a more comprehensive, orthodox, plan to combat the effects of HIV and AIDS. Its health plan is determined by Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who has served as health minister since December 2000.


October 19, 2004

Comparison of differnet approaches to the AIDs problem at national and regional levels

For this weeks entry I have chosen to compare the approaches to the AIDs problem at national, regional and local scales.

It is also important to look at the relationship between these different organisations.

The following extracts come from discussions at the Ministerial Conference in Dublin, February 2004 and looks at the roles of the different organisations.

Government agencies: The central role of government is to provide leadership through the development of evidence-based policies and programmes, enactment and enforcement of laws and regulations, funding for education, health care and support services, and facilitation to ensure the active engagement of all relevant governmental sectors. Types of government agencies include bi-lateral development agencies, national agencies, and provincial, local and municipal agencies.

Multilateral organizations: These organizations convene and encourage collaboration among key stakeholders throughout the region, provide information on best practices, and provide funding. Examples of these organizations include those affiliated with the United Nations, such as UNAIDS, WHO, UNDP, UNICEF, and the World Bank.

Private-sector organizations: Ranging from major international corporations to small local for-profit businesses and enterprises, private-sector stakeholders offer important opportunities to mobilize networks of highly skilled individuals and resources, implement evidence-based workplace policies to prevent stigma and discrimination and raise awareness about HIV risk reduction, provide support to employees living with HIV/AIDS, and support civil society. Media can play an essential role in disseminating information about HIV transmission and in reducing HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

Academic and research institutions: These can provide essential research to develop best practices, monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of policies and programmes, and train professionals.

People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and non-governmental and community-based organizations: NGOs have been at the forefront of the epidemic for over two decades, advocating for and providing treatment, care and support, and prevention services. NGOs and groups of people living with HIV/AIDS have also helped to further the development of human rights protection. Community constituents include: people living with HIV/AIDS, youth and student groups, women’s organizations, harm reduction programs, faith-based organizations, and many others.

Community involvement in HIV/AIDS response presents unique advantages, among them: relevance to the community needs; ability to respond quickly and effectively; commitment and motivation; ability to work with marginalized populations; and ability to take risks, allocating resources to alternative strategies.
and regional scales.

As can be seen from the above extracts the need for a coordinated approach is vital if success against AIDs is to be achieved. If local efforts are to be successful, funding from the central government is essential in order for drug provision to be sufficient. Furthermore cooperation between the private and public sectors is required to spread information regarding AIDs, for example, through the media. Whether these policies directed from the top are followed at local scales and within marginalised populations is however, difficult to ensure.


October 10, 2004

Bush AIDs Plan Gets Drugs to 25 00 in Third World

Writing about web page http://www.washingtonpost.com

October 10, 2004
Bush AIDs Plan Gets Drugs to 25 00 in Third World
By David Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 14, 2004; Page A07
The Bush administration's global AIDS plan has helped put at least 25,000 people on antiretroviral therapy since it began disbursing money in February to organizations and governments in 15 targeted countries.
That estimate is contained in an interim report delivered to two congressional committees last week. It covers only nine countries. An accounting for all 15 countries will be available late this fall.
"We are moving incredibly rapidly. To support 25,000 people in such a short period of time is virtually unheard of," said Mark R. Dybul, an AIDS researcher at the National Institutes of Health who is now the chief medical officer of the Bush AIDS program.
The head of the program, retired drug company executive Randall L. Tobias, said that "despite all the obstructions of getting something like this up and running . . . there is every reason to believe that we are on target to meet the goals that we have laid out."
Putting people on antiretroviral therapy (ART) is not the only goal of the five-year, $15 billion global AIDS program, but it has the highest profile. The next target is to have 200,000 people receiving AIDS drugs by June 2005.
The new report said the Bush plan is directly paying for antiretrovirals for 18,800 people and is indirectly supporting ART for an additional 6,100 through contributions to AIDS programs. The 15 countries include Haiti, Guyana, Vietnam and 12 in sub-Saharan Africa.
Dybul said manpower and expertise, not the cost of drugs, are the main impediments to getting people on ART.
"Capacity is unquestionably the limiting step," he said, adding that the Bush plan is helping to pay for training programs at 150 sites.
Over the five years of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the program aims to treat 2 million people with ART, prevent 7 million new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections, and provide care for 10 million AIDS orphans and infected people who do not need ART.
Although some federal agencies, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are directly providing services, most of the money flows through universities, charities and nongovernmental organizations.
At the recent 15th International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, officials of the World Health Organization estimated that by the end of June, 440,000 people were on ART in the developing world.
Some of the 25,000 newly treated people claimed by the Bush plan are among the 440,000 in the WHO estimates, but the amount of overlap is uncertain.
In December, WHO committed itself to helping the world's poor countries treat their AIDS patients with the same drugs that have transformed care in the United States and other wealthy nations. It set a goal of getting 3 million people on ART by the end of 2005 — the number chosen as roughly half the number of AIDS patients in the developing world who need treatment immediately to stay alive.
Worldwide, about 45 million people are infected with HIV.
WHO's next target in this "3 by 5" initiative is 700,000 on ART by the end of December. WHO does not treat these patients itself or pay for their treatment but provides advisers, training programs and treatment guidelines.
Much of the money for the new treatment of AIDS patients in poor countries is coming from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The two-year-old organization gets money from donor countries and foundations and distributes it to programs that it judges capable of performing.

October 05, 2004

In Sickness and in Wealth

For my media diary I have chosen the trace the development of AIDs and HIV in the Third World.

I feel this is a worthwhile topic given the vast numbers of people who have contracted AIDs and I am therefore interested in investigating the efforts that are being made to prevent it from spreading.


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