Africans To Discuss Ways To Fight HIV/AIDS, Improve Women's Health

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Members of parliament from Botswana, Kenya, Namibia and Tanzanianext week will meet in Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss strategies forfighting HIV/AIDS and improving women's health, Xinhua News Agency reports.Discussion topics for the two-day conference, scheduled for Sept. 11and Sept. 12, include stigma associated with HIV, women's health policyand ways to connect lawmakers with communities.

Lawmakers insub-Saharan Africa can be "powerful agents for change in the fightagainst HIV and AIDS and in shaping national health systems to improvewomen's and girls' access to health services," a statement from the International Center for Research on Womensaid. The leaders attending the conference are part of theParliamentarians for Women's Health Project, a three-year initiativefunded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundationthat aims to strengthen lawmakers' positions as advocates for women'shealth care by making connections with constituents, includingHIV-positive women, and through health care policy and budget analysis.

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Kenyan Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai and former IrishPresident Mary Robinson -- who serves as the U.N. high commissioner forhuman rights and president of Realizing Rights -- are scheduled to speak at the conference, Xinhua News Agency reports (Xinhua News Agency, 8/5).

UNICEF, Family Health International Launch Program To Fight HIV/AIDS in Five Countries

In related news, UNICEF and Family Health International have launched a joint program to combat HIV/AIDS among women in five countries: Guyana, India, Malawi, Nigeria and Zambia, VOA Newsreports. The program, which also is aimed at children, will focus onpreventing mother-to-child HIV transmission and improving pediatric HIVcare. FHI Chair Albert Siemens and UNICEF Director Alan Court said theprogram will combine UNICEF's program implementation knowledge withFHI's technical and management expertise.

Siemens added thatboth groups have a "firm commitment to help overcome the very limitedreach we currently have globally in helping mothers and babies accessneeded prevention and treatment services." According to health workersin the countries, access to HIV testing and treatment, social stigma,drug costs and a lack of infrastructure are hindering efforts to reducethe spread of the virus. Court said there is a large gap in access tocare between rural and urban areas, adding that the partnership willhelp to address the issue. According to Siemens, one of the biggestchallenges in fighting HIV/AIDS is a lack of health care workers indeveloping countries (Ghuneim, VOA News, 9/5).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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