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UN Reports 'Extraordinary Progress' In Global Fight Against AIDS

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30 November 2011
By Kate Kelland

The international community has made extraordinary progress in the past decade in the fight against AIDS, but a funding crisis is putting those gains at risk, the United Nations health agencies said on Wednesday.

A World Health Organization-led report said the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS and now infects about 34 million people around the world has proven a "formidable challenge" for scientists and public health experts.

"But the tide is turning," it added. "The tools to achieve an AIDS-free generation are in our hands."

DCPCR Issues Health Guidelines for Schools

A severe funding crisis at the world's largest backer of the fight against AIDS and a decline in international donor money to battle the disease is dampening optimism in the HIV/AIDS community about an eventual end to the pandemic.

Annual funding for HIV/AIDS programs fell to $15 billion in 2010 from $15.9 billion in 2009, well below the estimated $22 billion to $24 billion the U.N. agencies say is needed by 2015 to pay for a comprehensive, effective global response.

The public-private Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the world's largest financial backer of HIV treatment and prevention programm, said last week it was cancelling new grants for countries battling these diseases and would make no new funding available until 2014.

"Just as the world is making huge strides in the fight against HIV and AIDS, the goal of creating an AIDS-free generation, where no children are born with HIV, will not be possible unless the Global Fund is able to continue scaling up its work," said Patrick Watt, Save the Children's global campaign director.

"With the main funding body…now out of cash, there is a serious crisis," said Tido von Schoen-Angerer of the international medical charity Medecins Sans Frontires. "It's like a car going full speed has suddenly run out of gas."

In an interview with Reuters as the U.N agencies' report was released, Gottfried Hirnschall, the WHO's director for HIV/AIDS, said progress in cutting the number of new HIV infections and dramatically increasing access to life-saving AIDS drugs made this a critical time in the battle.


HIV-AIDS Infected In Kerala To Get Pension

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01 December 2011

The Kerala government will give a monthly pension of Rs 520 to all such patients in the state

Thiruvananthapuram: On the eve of the World AIDS Day on December 1, the Kerala government announced a monthly pension of Rs 520 for all those infected with HIV-AIDS.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told reporters that this was the first such scheme being implemented in the state.

"A monthly sum of Rs 400 would be given to each HIV-AIDS patient and in the case of the death of the patient it would be given to the immediate family member," Chandy said.
Since these patients require frequent visits to hospitals for treatment, they would be given an extra Rs 120 for meeting their monthly travel expenses," he added.

According to the Kerala State AIDS Control Society (KSACS), there are 55,167 HIV-AIDS infected people in the state.
The Palakkad district has the highest number of people with HIV, followed by Thrissur, reports IANS.


Shunned By Family, Sheltered By Stranger

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Times of India
30 November 2011
By Vijay Singh
Sindhudurg India
Stigma Continues To Ruin Lives Even Though Figures Show Decline In HIV Cases Across The Country

Radha and her sister–in–law Meena (names changed) sport broad smiles as they go about their business of cooking food for themselves and other workers at a poultry farm in Vengurla taluka of Sindhudurg. Their five children run through the farm, chase hens and play cheerfully like most kids their age.

Shunned By Family, Sheltered By Stranger

However, things were very different for the two widowed women and their kids just two months ago. Radha and Meena lost their husbands to AIDS a few years ago. A few years later, Radha and one of her three children—15–year–old daughter—tested positive for HIV as did Meena and one of two her kids.

"Around two months ago, my father–in–law, Balkrishna Parab, threw me, his daughter and our children out of the house at Pondaghat village in Kankavli taluka (about 460 km from Mumbai) because we had tested positive for HIV," said 37–year–old Meena. "We were forced to beg with our kids."

"We contracted the disease from our husbands, so how can we be blamed for it," asked Meena whose 14–yearold son is HIV positive.

The widows, who were shunned by their own family, were adopted by the poultry farm owner, Pandurang Kurade (54), whom they respectfully call 'baba' (father).

Kurade thanks the local media for highlighting the plight of the widows and their children. "On October 25, I saw a photograph of the family sleeping on a dusty road in a regional newspaper. I was shocked to learn that none of the villagers had come forward to rehabilitate them and decided to adopt them," said Kurade. He has secured admission for two of the girls in commerce stream of a junior college and is trying to admit two of the younger kids in a local school.

Senior district officials of Sindhudurg recently felicitated Kurade for being a 'Good Samaritan'.
The women weren't even allowed to take shelter on the premises of the village temple. An influential villager, who had donated Rs 51,000 to the temple, took objection to the w i d ow s taking shelter in the house of the gods.

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Some High-risk Groups Still A Cause For Concern

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Times of India
30 November 2011
By Sumitra Deb Roy
Mumbai India

The Mumbai District AIDS Control Society (MDACS) is relieved about the sharp fall in the incidence of HIV but admits that a few vulnerable pockets continue to be there. This is because the incidence of HIV in high–risk groups like migrants, men having sex with men (MSM) and intravenous drug users continues to be an inconsistently rising trend. E s t i m at e s indicate that the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in MSM population has not remained consistent over the years. While the numbers have definitely come down from a 24% incidence in 2000 to at least half of that, the graph has been hovering between 6% and 10% every year. For

Birth Pangs Can Be Predicted

instance, it had gone down to 6% in 2005 but spiralled to 7.6%, 8.6% and 9.2% in the following three years. Estimates with the state government suggest that despite all efforts, the HIV status of only 39,572 MSM is known. Of this, appropriate medical care and prevention services are yet to reach about 4,000 men. Project director of MDACS, Dr S S Kudalkar, said, "We are trying to reach out to as many people with the help of our NGOs. But, beyond a point we have to leave it to their close–knit community to spread awareness and come forward for testing."

Calling it a multi–faceted issue, an HIV consultant and senior doctor at KEM Hospital said many men were unaware about their HIV status. "They end up infecting their wives too. Teaching them prevention measures remain extremely important," he said.

Besides MSM, the swelling numbers of intravenous drug users (IDU) have become a cause for worry. The incidence has risen from 12.80% in 2005 to 21% till 2009. "Figures for 2010 are being complied, but it seems to have come down to about 6–7%," said Kudalkar.

Among other high–risk groups, the state is yet to reach out an estimated 16,461 female sex workers, 8.8 lakh migrants and 10,000 truckers.


World Aids Day 2011

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World AIDS Day this year is about "Getting to Zero." Zero New HIV Infections. Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS Related Deaths.

Backed by the United Nations the "Getting to Zero" campaign runs until 2015 and builds on last year's successful World AIDS Day "Light for Rights" initiative encompassing a range of vital issues identified by key affected populations."The potential for creative, connected and meaningful campaigning is really exciting," says World AIDS Campaign Africa Director, Linda Mafu. "Our organization will focus on Zero AIDS Related Deaths, but the choice is there for others to pick a different zero or all three."The World AIDS Campaign focus on "Zero AIDS Related Deaths" signifies


a push towards greater access to treatment for all; a call for governments to act now. A demand they honour promises like the Abuja declaration and that African Governments at very least hit agreed targets for domestic spending on health and HIV in support of the human right to the best attainable level of health care for all.It's a global campaign that spotlights how our fundamental right to health is intrinsically and inextricably linked to other basic rights

The right to food, to shelter, to freedom, to clean water and safety. Crucial too is access to affordable life saving quality medicines free from the crippling effects of excessive profit taking. In the coming months the World AIDS Campaign will be spotlighting a range of Getting to Zero initiatives to help see an end to AIDS related deaths."It's going to be amazing decision makers need to understand that people living with HIV , the marginalized, the dispossessed – all of us – want our rights." Linda Mafu adds. "I can see all sort of events on World AIDS Day – For example, marches that end in Light for Rights type actions outside Finance Ministries where beams of torchlight shine on buildings where under spending on HIV and health cost thousands of lives.

It's time to use our imaginations and let everyone know Getting to Zero is a must."


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