Ugandan Parliament Considers Bill That Would Require HIV Status Disclosure, Provide Some Protections to HIV-Positive People

Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report

Monday, December 15, 2008

Global Challenges


Uganda’s HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill 2008 — which is under consideration by a committee in Parliament — aims to criminalize the intentional transmission of HIV, guarantee access to treatment for HIV-positive people and provide protection against discrimination for people living with the disease, Uganda’s Daily Monitor reports. According to the Monitor, the draft law comes at a time when public health workers are expressing concern about Uganda’s HIV prevalence and an increasing incidence of new cases. The proposed bill will be the Ugandan government’s first formal effort to criminalize HIV transmission, the Monitor reports.

According to the Monitor, the bill encourages HIV-positive people to inform their partners about their status and follow prevention and treatment measures to prevent transmission of the virus. The draft law also recommends that health workers notify the sexual partners of people who test positive for HIV if the individual “has been given reasonable Continue reading


Ghana: Traditional And Religious Practices Frustrate HIV/Aids Prevention in Ghana

Ama Achiaa Amankwah
15 December 2008
Accra — A new study has revealed that religious and traditional challenges are a hindrance to dealing with HIV/AIDS and violence against women (VAW).

It states that in Northern Ghana, women continue to suffer violence in spite of existing laws due to negligence and ignorance about women and people’s rights, and misinterpretation of religious and cultural practices.

Even supposed experts who claim to be inclined to gender issues were found to have little or no experience to deal with the issue.

The author of the report, Mrs. Yaa Peprah Agyemang Amekudzi stated, “Poverty and lack of formal education were also identified as being used to perpetuate violence against women. Sometimes they feel they have to keep quiet to receive such abuses.”

ActionAid Ghana under its thematic area of women’s rights, commissioned the research, “Violence and HIV/AIDS: The Interface, Voices of Women in Northern Ghana”, to highlight the vulnerability of women to HIV/AIDS due to the violence they face. The study was meant to facilitate policy formulation and implementation, as well as service delivery to mitigate such vulnerability.

It focused on six districts, two in each of the three northern regions, namely Jirapa and Lawra (Upper West), Talensi Nabdam (Upper East) and Tamale and Bole (Northern region).

Disseminating the findings of the research in Accra, Mrs. Amekudzi cited physical violence or assault as predominant, besides arbitrary dissolution of marriages without responsibilities and compensation and forced marriages.
On the linkage between VAW and HIV/AIDS, she said issues such as sexual violence against women increased their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.

“Fear of violence prevents women from negotiating safe sex, stigma and violence meted out to women who test positive and declare their status have caused them to turn to commercial sex work to survive.”

She said that consequently, it retards development in all facets of social, economic and political, since the consequences of HIV/AIDS goes beyond women’s health to their role as caregivers and mothers and their contribution to the economic support of their families.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) report of 2003, studies conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa indicate a close association between increased risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS and VAW.

These vindicate the position of gender activists that HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, the transmission of which is sometimes a consequence of sexual violence, are having a devastating effect on women’s health, particularly the health of adolescent girls and young women.

An estimated 32.2 million people globally were living with HIV & AIDS in 2007 of which 15.4 million were women.
Now, 17.5 million women are living with AIDS with 77% of them in Sub-Sahara Africa, 90% of these are children.
Former Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Mr. Kofi Annan, once stated that if the world wants to save Africa from two catastrophes- famine and AIDS- then it must do well to focus on saving Africa’s women, adding, “In Africa, AIDS has a woman’s face.”

According to the new ActionAid study current HIV control efforts have failed to stem the high rate among women and girls in the three northern regions of Ghana.

It states that primarily, efforts have failed to recognize the lack of or low participation of women in decision-making, even when decisions are about them.

It mentioned that female condom has very minimum user rate in all the three northern regions because the decision to use them does not rest with women.

The study recommended that with policy implications district assemblies should enact bye-laws against harmful cultural practices and institutions such as NCCE, DOVVSU and police must be strengthened for effective.

“Government should open shelters and provide services for survivors of violence and HIV/AIDS, religious bodies should support victims of violence and HIV/AIDS and indicators should be developed to track effects of awareness creation about domestic violence and HIV, it added.

Ms. Adwoa Kwateng-Kluvitse, Country Director of ActionAid noted that change cannot be sustained without addressing the power dynamics.

“We are working on building and strengthening the voice of persons living with HIV/AIDS. We want to increase their access to information and skills, especially the vulnerable ones.”

She explained the objective of the project was to reduce violence against women which plays a critical role in exposing them to HIV infection in line with the UN Declaration on violence against women.

HIV/AIDS in India: New Theories Versus the AIDS Lobby

December 15, 2008

by Rupa Chinai

During the course of the past decade, women diagnosed as HIV/AIDS patients in Mumbai have been trying to say something important that deserves close attention. These widows, whose husbands died from AIDS, claim their experience is quite contrary to Western science, which insists that HIV is a “death sentence.”

Poverty and malnutrition ensure that women in India bear the heavy burden of disease.

These AIDS widows have become “long-term survivors.” For more than 12 to 14 years, they have been living well and have not felt the need to start anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy. It was through good counseling groups that they found hope. They got access to good doctors whose detailed and regular check-ups caught infections early. They also found a support group among women with similar afflictions. Thereafter, a “positive attitude” became the buzzword in their lives.These women share their first hand experiences of this disease. They believe that their husbands did not suffer an early demise because of AIDS. They say their men died because of addiction to alcohol, gutka (chewing tobacco) or cigarettes, coupled with a careless attitude towards medication and failing to adopt changes in their lifestyle. Continue reading

Las Vegas: Not even prostitution is immune to economics of supply, demand

By Abigail Goldman

Sun, Dec 14, 2008 (2 a.m.)

The pleasure of Stacie’s company used to cost $450 an hour, but no longer. Her clients were capped at 35 and older; today she’s taking almost anyone. Sex acts once off the menu are suddenly back on — recession specials, served with a side of shrugging compromise.

If she doesn’t do more for less, Stacie says, another prostitute will. And her weekly income is still down by half.

The illegal prostitution economy in Clark County is a multimillion-dollar beast fed by a black market so diverse that it’s impossible to pin down. On one hand, midrange prostitutes like Stacie say they’re being crippled by the economy. On the other, high-end call girls claim they’re not feeling much pain. And the women charging the least reportedly are making the most these days — counterintuitive in an industry where bargains come with risks.
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Cambodia: MTV EXIT only told one side of trafficking story

Written by Sara Bradford
Monday, 15 December 2008

The voices of non-trafficked sex workers were totally excluded


By Sara Bradford


Young people enjoy the performances at Friday’s MTV EXIT concert in Phnom Penh, but some say the music channel’s campaign has been too narrow and biased. MTV EXIT, an anti-trafficking campaign funded by USAID, has just finished a whirlwind tour of Cambodia. MTV EXIT has held concerts featuring internationally known pop groups and local musicians in four locations throughout the country to raise awareness of the risks of trafficking in Asia.

MTV EXIT has the potential to be an incredible platform for the issues within Cambodia surrounding trafficking. However, the issue of the heavily-scrutinised new anti-trafficking law has been completely ignored throughout the campaign. Indeed, the campaign has failed on many levels, the most important of which are firstly, their complete disconnect from the needs of the Cambodian community and secondly, the fact that the opinions they have provided to their viewers only represent one small portion of the issues at stake.
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