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Archive for October 24th, 2010

With operations in Asia and Africa, oil producer, Chevron, is the largest corporate donor to the Global Fund and has become a key part of grant implementation in some countries suported by the Fund

Posted by African Press International on October 24, 2010

HIV/AIDS: Global Fund looks to private sector to fill funding gap

Photo: Jaspreet Kindra/IRIN

JOHANNESBURG, 14 October 2010 (PlusNews) – With its coffers running at least US$1 billion short, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is looking to the private sector to fill the funding gap.

Ata 12 October conference on the role of buisness in health in Johannesburg, South Africa,members of the Funds board and secretariat said private sector contributions had become increasingly important as its historic donors governments were shying away from fully funding the global health financing mechanism.

In the new context that were in, where weve gotten [funding] increases from governments but we know that these governments are under pressure, this is exactly where the private sector has to step up, said the Global Funds private sector team manager, David Hayward Evans. We need more funds… and we believe, we hope, that the private sector can contribute.

At the 5 October replenishment meeting in New York, donors pledged $11.7 billion to the Global Fund over the next three years, but the Fund projected it would need at least $13 billion over the same period to maintain current programming. Private sector contributions, led by petroleum producer, Chevron, only accounted for about 3 percent of all pledged contributions at the meeting.

Brian Brink, chief medical officer for international mining corporation Anglo American, who represents the private sector on the Funds board, told IRIN/PlusNews he would like to see business become one of the Global Funds top10 donors. He plans to push the idea at a special business summit ahead of this years G20 meeting in South Korea on 11 November.

Uneasy bedfellows

At present, business can support the Global Fund in several ways, includingin-kind donations, such as the provision of country support staff; by supporting the implementation of Global Fund financed programmes through skills training; or by acting as a service provider.

Brink highlighted successful examples of such partnerships, including the training in financial management of Global Fund grantees by Standard Bank and the distribution of bed nets by South African-based fast-food chain, Nandos, but there are indications that the private sector is less keen to make financial contributions.

The Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC), an independent NGO that serves as a focal point for public-private partnership within the Fund, conducted a survey of 30 of the companies invited to take part in the Johannesburg conference. The surveyfound companies were most interested in contributing to the Fund through in-kind donations.

Among the companies main concerns in partnering with the Global Fund were that they would be seen as money pots, the potential for conflicts of interest, and that the Global Fund did not align with their corporate social responsibility strategies.

According to Evans, some businesses also remained wary of joining forces with the Fund’s governmental partners, regarded as overly bureaucratic compared with the corporate world.

llg/ks/mw source.irinnews

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Partner reduction featured as a core message in Uganda’s early HIV prevention programmes

Posted by African Press International on October 24, 2010

HIV/AIDS: Tracing the multiple concurrent partner debate

Photo: Zoe Flood/IRIN

JOHANNESBURG, 18 October 2010 (PlusNews) – As the debate heats up about whether or not multiple concurrent partnerships (MCPs) are major drivers of Africas HIV epidemics, IRIN/PlusNews takes a look at the evolution of the theory behind MCPs.

1982 – Uganda diagnoses its first case of HIV along the shores of Lake Victoria.

1986 – Uganda’s civil war ends and the country establishes its first national HIV prevention programme which incorporates the message of zero grazing aimed at encouraging faithfulness and partner reduction – effectively the worlds first MCP campaign.

1992 – British epidemiologists Robert May and Charlotte Watts propose that long-term simultaneous partnerships might increase the spread of HIV.

Also around this time, Christopher Hudson becomes interested in concurrency while treating sexually transmitted infections in London. He hypothesizes that MCPs may explain the high prevalence of briefly infectious STIs such as gonorrhea among some groups of his clients. He hypothesizes that if clients had stayed in long-term, monogamous relationships, short-lived infections would have died out within these London communities. The lingering presence of the disease in some sexual networks could be explained by people infected with gonorrhea having multiple partners during their brief periods of infectivity.

1993 – Researcher Martina Morris, drawing on the hypothesis that Africas high HIV rates were fuelled by high risk populations, such sex workers and truck drivers, develops a mathematical model to predict the spread of HIV in a population and travels to Uganda to test it out. Upon arrival in the country, she meets local doctors who quickly convince her that the model would be irrelevant unless it could take into account the effect of MCPs. Morris collects the sexual histories of more than 1,000 Ugandans, charting not only the number of sexual partners but also concurrency. Around 35 percent of re spondents said that at least two of their most recent relationships had overlapped by several months or years. She later conducts similar research in Thailand and the USA.

She later teams up with the mathematician Mirjam Kretzschmar to develop a new model that could compare the spread of HIV through two hypothetical populations: one in which concurrent partnerships were common and another in which serial monogamy was the norm. They found that HIV spread 10 times faster in the first population.

2003 – US President George W. Bush launches the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) which places a strong emphasis on abstinence based on the assumption that HIV is spreading mainly through casual sex among youth rather than through longer-term relationships among older people. Uganda expands HIV prevention in schools with US funding. Known as the Presidential Initiative on AIDS Strategy for Communication to Youth (PIASCY), the campaign advocates abstinence-until-marriage.

2004 – Anthrpologist Daniel T. Halperin, and author and scientist Helen Epstein publish their first paper on MCPs in The Lancet Medical journal.

2006 – At a 2006 Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting in Maseru, Lesotho, MCPs are identified as a key driver of the region’s HIV epidemic, along with low levels of male circumcision and inconsistent condom use.

2008 – HIV prevalence in Uganda begins to rise, according to UNAIDS, which in its yearly report notes that new HIV infections are highest among people in long-term relationships where one or both partners have other sexual relationships at the same time.

Meanwhile, MCPs become a key focus of HIV programmes in eastern and southern Africa aimed at achieving a reduction in infections through widespread behaviour change. Campaigns include OneLove, a regional effort rolled out in nine southern African countries.

2009 – A heated debate begins between proponents of the MCP theory, such as Halperin and Epstein, and detractors like US-based social epidemiologist Mark Lurie and public health researcher Samantha Rosenthal, and continues to rage in academic journals.

llg/ks source.irinnews

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A third of Nairobi’s sex workers are living with HIV

Posted by African Press International on October 24, 2010

KENYA: Sex workers care for HIV-affected peers

Photo: IRIN
A third of Nairobi’s sex workers are living with HIV

NAIROBI, 21 October 2010 (PlusNews) – Shunned by mainstream society, sex workers with HIV-related illnesses in Nairobi are unlikely to receive help from concerned neighbours. Instead, some of them are being cared for by fellow sex workers.

A group of 25 sex workers who call themselves Knight Nurses, have been active for a little over a year in the slum of Huruma. They regularly visit fellow members of the group and their family members who are HIV-positive and bedridden to cook for them, wash them and tidy their homes. They also organize hospital visits and ensure they are taking their drugs.

When Teresa Wangui’s* father fell ill with an HIV-related condition last year, the “Knight Nurses” came to the rescue. My friends would fundraise and hire a taxi to take Dad to hospital whenever he had an [opportunistic] illness, she told IRIN/PlusNews. They would also help in caring for him at home before he died last year.

Since the breakdown of an abusive marriage 12 years ago, Fatuma Mohamed*, 40, has been accepting clients in her Nairobi home and occasionally seeking them out in bars. She said the Knight Nurses have helped her to accept her HIV-positive status and to remain healthy.

I am now less bothered whatever people say regarding HIV and myself, she said. The girls keep watch over me, ensuring that I feed well and take my ARVs (antiretroviral drugs) as prescribed.

Vital information

At a weekly Knight Nurses meeting, the 20 members in attendance donated 20 Kenya shillings each (about US$0.25) and assorted food items for two sick members.

''I am now less bothered whatever people say regarding HIV and myself.The girls keep watch over me, ensuring that I feed well and take my ARVs''

The weekly meetings stress the importance of safe sex to prevent HIV infection and re-infection and are a vital source of information for those in attendance who have no safe sex messages directed to them through government programmes.

Teresa Wangui said she was hesitant to go for an HIV test after a worrying incident with a client. He was very rough and the condom burst… Next, I had him wear two condoms but when I reached home I discovered one condom was still in my body, she said.

I was not alive to the correct use of the condom, she added. Now I know that condoms reduce the risk of HIV and only one should be worn per session… With each weekly discussion, I build up confidence to know my HIV status. Once I gather enough courage, I will visit a VCT [voluntary counselling and testing] clinic.

The meetings also discuss issues such as alcohol abuse and the occupational hazards of practising their trade. The girls report harassment – regular arrest and extortion of earnings by the police and city council officers who demand free sex in exchange for not arresting the girls; and sexual molestation by clients who refuse to pay for sex or to wear the condom, said Miriam Murugi, chair of the Knight Nurses.

She noted that little help was available when complaints were raised with the authorities; group contributions are sometimes used to bail out jailed members.

Need for vigilance

Swistan Ngara, a community mobilizer with the National NGO, Liverpool VCT, which set up a testing tent in Huruma in August, attends Knight Nurses meetings to explain why they must be vigilant about condom use and HIV testing, and gives them the skills to negotiate for safe sex with their clients.

We work with the most-at-risk populations – we have managed to reach out to such groups as commercial sex workers to enable them access to VCT, reproductive health services like family planning and STI [sexually transmitted infections] prevention and treatment services, he said.

According to National AIDS and STI Control Programme director Nicholas Muraguri, there are an estimated 7,000 sex workers operating in Nairobis central business district alone. He said the HIV prevalence among this group was an alarming 33 percent, compared to an average rate of about 9 percent in Nairobi Province.

Adding that sex workers and their clients are responsible for an estimated 15 percent of new HIV infections nationally every year, he stressed the importance of working with this group to ensure they reduced their risk of transmitting and contracting the virus.

(*not her real name)

wm/kr/ks/cb source.irinnews

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UNION OFFICIALS VOW TO GO ON WITH THE STRIKE

Posted by African Press International on October 24, 2010

BY DICKENS WASONGA,

Union leaders from tea growing areas of Nyanza, Western and part of Rift valley on Saturday joined COTU boss Francis Atwoli in demanding for negotiation between workers in the tea factories or risk more losses as the ongoing strike entered its second week.

Speaking at Tom Mboya Labour College in Kisumu Atwoli led the leaders who included shop stewards from Kericho, Tinderet, Sotik, and Nyamira zones into declaring their support for the strike and vowed to move on until the employers
agree to sit on a negotiating table with them.

Atwoli also asked the striking workers to remain steadfast adding that COTU was ready to feed them throughout the striking period until their demands are met.

He at the same time lashed out at the MPs from the tea growing areas especially from Kisii and Rift Valley whom he accused of being compromised by the owners of the multinational factories not to champion the interest of the
workers.

He said even the government was to blame for keeping quite over the issue of the introduction of machine in the sub sector which he said has pushed many people into poverty and joblessness.

Atwoli said the government pledged to create jobs and it was surprising for them to go silent on an issue which has seen many rendered redundant.
” These MPs are accepting bribes from these firms. I am not opposed to introduction of machines in the tea estates but I can not keep quiet while workers are sacked and replaced with machines at these multinational companies.”he said.

Atwoli said strike was legal because COTU issued the employers with a seven-day notice as required by law and asked the police to keep off the strike. He said strike was recognised by the constitution and asked the employers not to victimise their employees adding that all they were doing was to demand their constitutional right.

The union leaders asked the directors of the multinational companies to swallow their pride and agree to negotiate with them or face tough times ahead.

The strike occasioned by the introduction of tea plucking machines has seen some shopstewards sacked and factories incurring heavy losses as a result. Before he died , the former labour Minister Newton Kulundi allowed the factories to use
the machines to do 30 per cent of their jobs but the COTU boss claimed they have since violated that provision.
ENDS.

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