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AFRO-NETS> HIV/AIDS IN AFRICA: Conference Convened on Continent's Top Killer
- Subject: AFRO-NETS> HIV/AIDS IN AFRICA: Conference Convened on Continent's Top Killer
- From: Dieter Neuvians MD <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999 12:18:30 -0400 (EDT)
HIV/AIDS IN AFRICA: Conference Convened on Continent's Top Killer
The 11th International Conference on AIDS and STDs in Africa
opened yesterday in Lusaka, Zambia, "amid calls for the pan-
demic to be declared a global 'super-disaster,'" the London
UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said there were 16,000 new
HIV infections per day last year, half of them among the young.
More than 80% of deaths from the disease have occurred in Af-
rica, which has the 21 countries with the highest HIV rates in
the world (London Telegraph, 13 Sep). The pandemic has left 6
million children orphaned in eastern and southern Africa, where
more than 70% of the world's AIDS orphans live (Agence France-
Presse, 12 Sep).
Piot noted that the world community has failed to mobilize to
fight the disease and that half of all babies born in Africa
are infected with HIV. "AIDS is cutting productivity of compa-
nies, far too many people are too sick to work, Africa's middle
class is being decimated," Piot said (BBC Online, 12 Sep). Piot
said eliminating stigma against infected persons "is a key way
to break the silence and move the response forward" (Musengwa
Kayaya, Panafrican News Agency, 12 Sep).
Yet Piot also "gave a glimmer of hope when he told the confer-
ence that through the international partnership against AIDS in
Africa, the organization was building a broad coalition of gov-
ernments, multilateral organizations and other sectors to fight
the scourge" (Kayaya/Mulenga, Panafrican News Agency, 12 Sep).
African Heads Of State Fail To Show
The Irish Times reports that not one of Africa's heads of state
was present at the opening, not even Zambian President Freder-
ick Chiluba, whose address to the conference was delivered by
Zambian Vice President Christone Tembo. "No official explana-
tion was given for his absence," the newspaper notes.
Some 5,000 delegates to the five-day conference are discussing
practical ways of fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which is es-
timated to have infected 22.5 million Africans and to have
killed 11 million others (Irish Times, 13 Sep). HIV/AIDS has
become the top killer in Africa, which is home to two-thirds of
those infected with the virus worldwide (BBC Online, 12 Sep).
Chiluba's prepared remarks called for African researchers to
find "imaginative, novel and bold solutions" to the diseases
and challenged them to develop the necessary scientific confi-
dence to go beyond the "stereotype approach" of continually
looking to the developed North for answers. He said it is dis-
heartening that little use has been made during the last 10
years of the African knowledge base on the diseases (Mildred
Mulenga, Panafrican News Agency, 12 Sep).
Declaration Recognizes HIV/AIDS 'Disaster'
A declaration issued by African leaders at the opening session
pledged greater resources to tackle the pandemic. The declara-
tion noted: "HIV/AIDS is a national disaster in our countries
requiring an emergency response." The admission that the pan-
demic is a disaster came after several speakers called on the
leader to publicly recognize the magnitude of the problem and
give it due attention (Agence France-Presse/Nando.net, 12 Sep)
Agence France-Presse notes that "millions of adults are dying
in their 30s and 40s, leaving in their wake orphaned children,
overwhelmed hospitals and companies and schools hit by the loss
of skilled staff." Its report includes a country breakdown of
HIV/AIDS statistics from 14 African nations (Agence France-
Presse/Johannesburg Mail & Guardian, 10 Sep).
World Bank Pledges Focus On AIDS In Africa
World Bank Regional Director for Africa Callisto Madavo said
the bank has recognized AIDS as "the foremost threat to Af-
rica's development initiatives" and decided to make the pan-
demic an integral part of its development activities in the re-
gion. Madavo challenged African governments to put AIDS at the
center of their development agenda (Kayaya, Panafrican News
Agency, 12 Sep).
Delegates to the conference "will be told the workplace is an
effective setting for teaching AIDS prevention and for foster-
ing better understanding" of the disease, the Financial Times
reports, noting that there are signs the pandemic is increas-
ing. Sarah Vincent of UNICEF: "It's wiping out teachers and
civil servants faster than the government can train them."
Business has not only a responsibility but an incentive to
tackle AIDS in the workplace, said Deborah Boswell of the Kara
Counseling and Training Trust in Lusaka (David Pilling, Finan-
cial Times, 13 Sep).
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