Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Focus on World AIDS Day

As most of you already know, today is World AIDS Day. Should December 1st be a somber occasion, marked by remembrance for the millions already lost and mindfulness of the challenges still ahead? Or should it be a day to commend and promote the progress made by extraordinary individuals and initiatives around the world? I agree with both approaches, and I hope I’ve reflected that in this week’s blog.

The HIV/AIDS pandemic was transformed by the development of PMTCT (prevention of mother-to-child transmission) of HIV. However, more than half of the world’s pregnant HIV-positive women are still not receiving the treatment they need to ensure that their babies are born negative. UNICEF is stepping up its efforts to ensure an “AIDS-free generation” in Kenya by distributing packs of AIDS drugs to every HIV-positive pregnant woman. Read more about the struggle to provide PMTCT in the developing world here, and watch a video of the launch of a PMTCT program in Kisumu, Kenya here:

How do you tell a child that he or she is HIV-positive? And what are the consequences of not telling them, or disclosing their status in an insensitive way? Human Rights Watch has conducted research in Kenya about the importance of disclosing age-appropriate information to children about their HIV status. Their observations and recommendations can be found here.

A few days ago, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga called for the arrest of homosexuals, raising alarm among many, including HIV/AIDS activists. Will Raila’s remarks drive the Kenyan gay community even further underground, and thus jeopardize crucial efforts to prevent HIV transmission among homosexuals? Read more here.

Since 1989, Professor Elizabeth Ngugi has conducted outreach to young female sex workers in the slums of Nairobi. Thanks to her efforts, more than six hundred sex workers have received the assistance and training needed to launch new careers and lead healthier lives. Watch a profile of Professor Ngugi, in an installment of IRIN’s “Heroes of HIV” series.

HIV-positive youth in the Mathare slum of Nairobi have written and produced their own newsletter, which aims to “inform, share their life experiences, create awareness, and help reduce stigma related to HIV/AIDS.” Read “Eneza Ujumbe: The Voices of Mathare Youth” here.

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