FRW news in brief

    | December 2, 2013

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    1- Rwanda: Expectant mothers refused HIV tests

    Single mothers in Rwanda are being turned away from antenatal care facilities despite a government directive to reduce mother-to-child HIV transmission.

    A nurse at a Kigali hospital said hospital policy is that women must be accompanied by their husbands, so both can be tested at the same time. This flies in the face of the government’s plans to make testing for women easier.

    One patient, a teacher, said a nurse called her a prostitute when she explained that her husband wasn’t with her for the testing because he had left her when she became pregnant. Another woman said that after being turned away, she had to return to the clinic with a male friend who claimed to be her husband before she could receive the HIV test.

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    2- United Nations: Diagnostic kits needed to test children for HIV

    Early testing for the HIV virus helps prolong children’s lives, according to the United Nations. More than a quarter of a million children are born every year infected by HIV, the virus which causes AIDS. The majority live in sub-Saharan Africa.

    A director at the UNAIDS organization is calling for more diagnostic kits to be made available, and for their cost to be reduced. The kits improve HIV detection in children and can be crucial in identifying the virus early.

    According to UN statistics, 1.9 million children under the age of 15 require treatment for HIV. Only 650,000, or 34 per cent, of these children received antiretroviral medication for HIV last year, an increase of 14 per cent from the previous year.

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    3- Zimbabwe: Teenagers not comfortable with HIV testing

    Zimbabwe’s 2011 demographic health survey found that more than half of young people aged 15 to 24 are educated on AIDS, though this doesn’t lead them to clinics for testing.

    The Young People AIDS Network of Zimbabwe says that of 12,500 youth surveyed in Mwenezi district this year, only five per cent admitted to being tested.

    The Zimbabwean Ministry of Health has set up mobile testing clinics to visit schools, but many young people believe there are too many adults involved and do not feel comfortable using the clinics.

    The UNAIDS organization credits the government of Zimbabwe’s 1990s youth HIV prevention program with bringing down the HIV prevalence rate. Once 24 per cent, one of the highest in the world, the rate was reduced to 15 per cent over a decade.

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