Guardian Examines Poverty's Effect On HIV/AIDS Pandemic

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London's Guardian on Wednesday published several articles on poverty, including its effect on HIV/AIDS and malaria. Summaries appear below.

* "We're at a Chronic Stage": Although the HIV/AIDS pandemic appears to be leveling off, continued unsafe sexual practices and a lack of access to drugs means that "so much remains to do" to fight the disease, the Guardian reports. According to the Guardian, advocacy campaigns and public outrage have led to the provision of large amounts of money and commitment to fight the pandemic. Some experts argue that the scale-up in HIV/AIDS programs has been "at the expense of very weak health systems in Africa and Asia whose few doctors, nurses and other health workers have been diverted from dealing with other diseases." Although many HIV/AIDS experts "agree in principle" that health systems need to be strengthened, UNAIDS Director of Evidence, Monitoring and Policy Paul de Lay said that vertical programs have shown to be effective and contribute to health-system strengthening. Considering the financial stress of providing millions of HIV-positive people with antiretroviral drugs and several scientific setbacks in developing a vaccine, the Guardian reports that many HIV/AIDS experts think that the best way to fight the disease is through education (Boseley, Guardian, 9/24).


* "Simple Things That Can Make a Difference": The Towards 4+5 consortium, which is dedicated to achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals of reducing maternal and child mortality rates and providing universal access to reproductive health care, has been working in countries throughout the world -- including Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, Pakistan and Nepal -- to link research with policymaking and practice on the ground, the Guardian reports. According to the Guardian, such work shows that not all efforts to reach the millennium goals are "confined to the ivory towers of academia" (Shifrin, Guardian, 9/24).

* "Southern Africa": The Guardian profiled a multimedia project in Southern Africa called "Soul City," a TV soap opera that has had "sensational" effects on the fight against HIV/AIDS as it enters its 10th season. According to the Guardian, the program has had an impact on fighting stigma associated with HIV/AIDS -- 80% of children who watch "Soul City" are happy to have an HIV-positive friend, compared with 48% of those who do not watch. The program -- along with a similar show aimed at 8- to 12-year-olds called "Soul Buddyz" -- is funded primarily by the United Kingdom's Department for International Development since 1994. The producers now are focusing on prevention and are prepared to launch a campaign called One Love, which will reach 10 countries and be translated into nine out of 11 of South Africa's official languages (Beresford, Guardian, 9/24).

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