First Lady Promotes Role Of Faith-Based Groups In African HIV/AIDS Efforts

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First lady Laura Bush on Thursday while visiting Lusaka, Zambia,promoted the role of faith-based organizations in the fight againstHIV/AIDS in Africa, the AP/San Diego Tribune reports (Schatz, AP/San Diego Tribune, 6/28). Bush is on her third visit to Africa to highlight programs funded by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the President's Malaria Initiative.She has used her trip to examine the role of faith-based organizationsand visited two such organizations in Zambia. Bush also traveled toSenegal, Mozambique and Mali as part of the Africa tour (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/28).

"Religiousinstitutions bring a personal healing touch to the fight against AIDS,"Bush said, adding that Zambian health care providers "know very wellthe healing power of faith." Bush was speaking at a community centeroutside of Lusaka, where she participated in a round-table discussionwith local Zambian women and girls who are caring for family andfriends with HIV/AIDS. Bush also said that abstinence is a "veryimportant component of the program." She said, "There are several waysin which we can reach young people," adding, "One of the effective waysis abstinence, ... it brings back dignity and self-responsibility toyoung people."

Canisius Banda, a spokesperson for the Zambian Ministry of Health,said the department places "great importance to the role of faith-basedorganizations in ... the fight against HIV and AIDS." However, he saidsuch groups are not always supportive of certain aspects of the "ABC"HIV prevention model -- meaning abstinence, be faithful and usecondoms. Faith-based organizations are "weak on condom usage," he said,adding, "They seem to have difficulty with that part of the message.They are very strong on abstinence as well as being faithful."Ambassador Mark Dybul, who serves as the U.S. global AIDS coordinatorand administers PEPFAR, said that 40% to 50% of health care in Africais provided by faith-based organizations.

In addition, faith-based groups, including World Vision and Catholic Relief Services, are partnering with local Zambian groups to distribute 500,000 insecticide-treated bed nets throughout Zambia (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/28). Half of the $2.5 million program is funded by U.S. corporations -- including Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and the NBA -- that are part of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/28).


Zambia To Receive $800M for HIV/AIDS Programs

In related news, PEPFAR will provide $800 million to Zambia over fiveyears to fight HIV/AIDS in the country, Dybul said Thursday whiletraveling with Bush, Reutersreports. According to Dybul, the U.S. initially had planned to provideZambia with $534 million during the first four years of PEPFAR butincreased the amount to $800 million to cover five years. "We needbroader efforts to fight the AIDS pandemic and to prevent newinfections, especially in Africa because this is where there are 70% ofAIDS orphans," Dybul said (Reuters, 6/28).

U.S. Gives $300,000 to Organization of African First Ladies

The U.S. government will give the Organization of African First Ladies$300,000 for its HIV/AIDS programs on the continent, Bush alsoannounced on Thursday, Xinhua/People's Dailyreports. She praised Zambian first lady Maureen Mwanawasa, who chairsOAFLA, for her efforts to fight the pandemic and support vulnerablechildren and women. Mwanawasa, who accompanied Bush, called forincreased access to education for children about the dangers of unsafesex. She added that Bush's visit is an inspiration to Zambia's effortsin fighting HIV/AIDS in the country and throughout the continent (Xinhua/People's Daily, 6/29).

The Chicago Tribuneon Friday examined the ABC approach to HIV prevention and how it isbeing incorporated into Zambia's national HIV/AIDS strategy (Silva, Chicago Tribune, 6/29).

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