aidsfocus news

aidsfocus news
September 2017

Sep 18, 2017


HIV is still a stigma

Dear aidsfocus readers,

We cannot emphasise it often enough: stigma and discrimination are two of the chief reasons why the first ‘90’ in the UNAIDS strategy’s 90-90-90 targets is in danger of not being achieved.

UNAIDS is urging swift action to end AIDS by 2030. The first milestone: by 2020, 90 percent of all infected people should know their HIV-status, 90 percent of those diagnosed should have access to treatment, and in 90 percent of those in treatment the virus should no longer be detectable. Fear about getting tested and the potential consequences, such as having to take medication for the rest of one’s life and at the same time being discriminated against by one’s community, are still very widespread and are preventing people from taking the all-important test.

In an interview, George Ojamuge from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Uganda takes a clear stance on reaching the UNAIDS targets: everyone must take responsibility in the fight against the virus and tackle stigmatisation!

And this also includes the church: pastor Phumzile Mabizela is director of the INERELA+ organisation, a network of religious leaders in South Africa. She herself has been HIV-positive for 17 years and focuses on educating specifically the church and its congregations about HIV/AIDS. This is her mission. She is taking decisive action against stigma and discrimination inside the church and religious communities. She considers it vital that sexuality is openly discussed and that this subject is not made taboo. In her work she consistently encounters opposition. The church is far from reaching the point of accepting HIV as a disease, recognising the transmission routes and hence supporting and implementing the necessary interventions.

You can find this fascinating interview with Phumzile Mabizela on African Mirror at the following link.

And you can read important extracts from the interview with Phumzile Mabizela here.

Carine Weiss


Project Leader, Medicus Mundi Switzerland

Topic of the month

Our real problem is the stigma

MMS/ - Evidence has shown that HIV is a manageable condition, but our real problem is the stigma. People are scared of being tested - they fear of being discriminated or rejected. In our work we train religious leaders and help them to spread messages of hope and life. For a long time the church had very judgmental messages and they responded to HIV in a very distracting ways, like saying that HIV is a punishment from God. But today we are able to say that HIV is a manageable virus, and the church is supposed to be involved in supporting people to get tested and if tested HIV positive, to get treatment. (By Phumzile Mabizela)


Information from the Swiss community of practice

HIV Test and Treat: Are the 90 - 90 - 90 targets set for 2020 within reach?

MMS/ - Online-Bulletin of the MMS/ conference of 10 May 2017



Aids Help Switzerland - GET TESTED is a campaign run by Aids Help Switzerland. Its aim is to encourage men and women to know their own HIV status, while also breaking down prejudice and fear of discrimination.


Universal Pension Pilot in Muleba District - Tanzania

Kwa Wazee - New pilot programme: In 2016 Kwa Wazee introduces universal pensions in two villages of the Muleba District. Towards the end of 2003 the Tanzanian NGO Kwa Wazee started to support older people by means of social pensions in a number of wards of the Muleba District. This was the first time in Eastern Africa that the concept of non contributary social pensions for older people was applied.


Insights: Visiting patients with our social worker

Ruedi Lüthy Foundation - Some of our patients live in the most difficult of circumstances, making it scarcely possible for them to keep strictly to their HIV treatment. Our social worker Melania Mugamu visits them in their homes to find out how we can support them better. Having her own HIV/Aids story to tell also helps.


International news

Losing the fight against HIV in the Philippines

The Lancet - "The Philippines is facing an unprecedented HIV crisis. New infections have doubled in the past 6 years to more than 10 000 new cases last year alone.


President of Zambia declares HIV testing mandatory

The Lancet - "The President of Zambia has announced HIV testing will now be mandatory in all government health facilities, causing concern among health activists. Zambia is moving forward with mandatory HIV testing for all patients who visit government health facilities, Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya told The Lancet, confirming President Edgar Lungu's surprise announcement of the new policy in mid-August. (Andrew Green reports)


Zambia charts a road map to achieve bold Fast-Track commitments

UNAIDS - "Zambia has launched its AIDS Response Fast-Track Strategy 2017–2021, which provides a road map to achieve the global Fast-Track prevention and 90–90–90 targets whereby 90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of people who know their HIV-positive status are accessing treatment and 90% of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads.


Fighting HIV/AIDS: Human-Rights Focused Advocacy Is More Critical Than Ever

HealthAffairsBlog - "We are at an interesting and uncertain time in global health. The political climate is, to put it mildly, dynamic. One need only look at the United States, historically the largest donor to the global AIDS response, to see how precarious progress is at the moment. The Trump administration outlined devastating budget cuts that, if enacted, could erode progress, lay the groundwork for further inequities, and hurt those who are already most vulnerable to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.


Defeating HIV/AIDS Means Listening To Young People

Huffingtonpost - "Young people with HIV in North America and Europe now have near-normal life expectancy. New diagnoses of HIV have fallen among men who have sex with men in England. These recent findings are incredibly positive and should be celebrated. Progress is being made, but HIV/AIDS is far from over, especially in low-and middle-income countries, and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.


Kenya becomes first country to debut generic HIV drug - "A new generic version of a frontline antiretroviral drug launches in Kenya today, the first time that HIV patients will have access to the more affordable version of the treatment.


INTERVIEW-Kenyan lawyer takes on president in battle for rights

The Thomson Reuters Foundation, Nairobi, Kenya - "When Allan Maleche was offered a position at one of Kenya's top law firms on graduation, he did not imagine a future as an activist standing up to government and challenging tradition.


Reports and Studies

Investing in Global Health Security

The Global Fund - "Investing in global health is a highly cost effective way to achieve greater security and stability, to protect communities worldwide from infectious disease and to halt emerging health threats.


Ending AIDS: progress towards the 90–90–90 targets

UNAIDS - "Ending AIDS: progress towards the 90–90–90 targets, gives a detailed analysis of progress and challenges towards achieving the 90–90–90 targets. The report shows that for the first time the scales have tipped: more than half of all people living with HIV (53%) now have access to HIV treatment and AIDS-related deaths have almost halved since 2005.


Meeting the needs of women living with HIV - "A new consolidated guideline on sexual and reproductive health and rights of women living with HIV recently published by WHO represents a groundbreaking shift towards focusing on rights and the meaningful involvement of women living with HIV.


Alice Welbourn: WHO and the rights of women living with HIV

The British Medical Journal - Women’s rights to informed choices about what happens to their bodies are often contested—especially if they are pregnant or have HIV. Yet informed choices about risks and benefits form a critical part of long term prognosis.


Public health and HIV viral load

UNAIDS - "The primary purpose of antiretroviral therapy is to keep people living with HIV in good health. In the large majority of people living with HIV, antiretroviral medication can be chosen that reduce the amount of HIV in the blood to levels that are undetectable by standard laboratory tests.


From a global crisis to the ‘ end of AIDS ’ : New epidemics of signification - "In the past decade, discourses about AIDS have taken a remarkable, and largely unquestioned, turn. Whereas mobilisations for treatment scale-up during the 2000s were premised on perceptions of an ‘epidemic out of control’, we have repeatedly been informed in more recent years that an end to AIDS is immanent. This new discourse and its resulting policies are motivated by post-recession financial pressures, a changing field of global institutions, and shifting health and development priorities.



MMS Workshop: Comprehensive Sexuality Education

MMS Workshop, 28 September 2017 - Sexual and reproductive ill-health is a major contribution to the burden of disease among young people. The right of access to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is grounded in fundamental human rights. The objective of CSE is to ensure that young people can build their knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to responsibly enjoy their sexuality – physically and emotionally, individually and in relationships. It empowers young people to protect their health, well-being and dignity.


No ‘business as usual’ against non-communicable diseases

MMS Symposium, 2 November 2017 - The MMS Symposium will address the challenges of tackling noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) by looking at the determinants of NCDs, the organisation of health care and the role of civil societies. A “business-as-usual” approach won’t suffice. NCDs kill 40 million people each year. NCDs are currently responsible for almost 70% of global deaths.


The end of Aids does not come by its own!

Action against AIDS, 28 November 2017 - Just a few years ago it seemed impossible to treat globally 18 Million people with HIV. The global community has the capacity to end the global Aids epidemic. The implementation of the Agenda 2030 with the sustainable development goals stands and falls with the regressions of devastating diseases, such as HIV, TB and Malaria. Action against AIDS Germany advocates since 15 years for a solidly united response to the epidemic. This is the time to take inventory with our members, partner organizations and the interested public.


AIDS 2018

AIDS 2018, 23 July 2018 - The International AIDS Society (IAS) announced that Amsterdam, Netherlands will host the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018). AIDS 2018 is expected to bring together some 18,000 participants from around the world. “The Netherlands is a great example of what happens when a government supports outstanding science and embraces evidence-based HIV programmes in combination with a robust commitment to human rights,” said Chris Beyrer, President of the IAS.

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