AIDS Care Watch

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

HIV/AIDS education should be reinforced

By, Isaac Kyeyune, The New Vision, January 8, 2008

Uganda was praised for its efforts to address the AIDS scourge. This was made possible with high political commitment and massive external support. Uganda is hailed for massive youth sensitisation programmes, the ABC approach, HIV counselling and testing, sex education, family planning, research, and reproductive health services.

But the gains are being lost. HIV/AIDS spread is increasing, and in many places, people walk miles to access an HIV test, which is costly. There is limited funding, little sensitisation and publicity, and educative materials are not enough yet these are the tools that drove AIDS-related activities that helped in bringing down the scourge. It is no surprise that recent studies in Uganda indicate that the youth are in greater danger than before and cross-generational sex is a hot issue in HIV prevention.

This is probably because the young generation missed the educational messages and slogans like AIDS kills, which were intensive in the late 1980s and 1990s when they were too young to understand. There are many pointers that ignorance and complacency is on the increase. Recent press reports indicated that, for example, some fishermen around Lake Victoria admit to fearing water more than HIV. A study also indicated that when having sex, the youth are more worried about pregnancy that contracting HIV.

It is possible that many people are no longer worried about AIDS because it no longer kills in the manner it used to because of ARVs. Lack of sensitisation had led some people to equate ARVs to a cure. The latest UN data indicates that about 760,000 European Union citizens are living with HIV and the number of infections has been increasing since 2002.

In Europe and Central Asia, the number of people with the virus doubled over a six-year period from 1.25 million to 2.4 million.

During 2005, the EU recorded nearly 27,000 new diagnosed cases of HIV, while the recent sero-survey report in Uganda indicated worse trends. AIDS education should be given due attention. The complacency will catch up with those responsible and possibly may be too late to be reversed.


WHO urges less qualified AIDS workers for poorer countries

By,AFP, January 9, 2008

Less qualified health workers should be used in HIV/AIDS care in developing countries facing severe shortages of doctors and nurses, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Tuesday.

To increase access to treatment, the WHO called instead for "task shifting," giving health workers with fewer qualifications greater responsibilities.

"Doctors and nurses are essential but countries cannot afford to wait years while they complete their training," said Anders Nordstrom, WHO's assistant director of health systems.

"Task shifting not only addresses the two interlinked emergencies of the health worker crisis and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, but also offers long-term potential for strengthening health systems in a way that is consistent with the current renaissance in primary health-care services," Nordstrom added.

The WHO said at least 57 countries, mostly in Africa, are facing severe health personnel shortages in their fight against HIV/AIDS. An additional four million health workers are needed globally.

Although sub-Saharan Africa is home to just over ten percent of the world's population, it is the most ravaged by HIV/AIDS with more than 60 percent of all cases, or around 25.8 million people, according to UNAIDS.