Xinhua News Agency (09.17.07) - Monday, September 17, 2007
On the sidelines of a reproductive health conference in
Nairobi over the weekend, an expert warned that reductions in
HIV/AIDS figures in some African countries are likely the
result of more people dying of the disease rather than
effective campaigns to reduce the number of new infections.
Dr. Joachim Osur, senior reproductive health expert with IPAS,
an international organization specializing in women's health
issues, said reported reductions in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda
are not good news.
There is no indication that many more people have begun
HIV/AIDS treatment, while new infections have continued to
soar. "The reducing HIV/AIDS prevalence means many infected
people are dying from the disease. It does not mean the
situation is getting better," said Osur.
Unity Media for Social Change, an association of East African
journalists, held the conference with support from the
Commonwealth Secretariat in London. The goal of the meeting
was to encourage regional policy debates around reproductive
Uganda has cut its prevalence rate by almost 70 percent since
the 1990s to the current 6.6 percent. While UNAIDS has
attributed the decline to "specific interventions," it warns
that the failure to distribute antiretrovirals remains a
challenge on the continent.
Dr. Patrick Orege, former director of Kenya's National AIDS
Control Council, said new infections continue unabated among
adolescents and women. Meanwhile, he said, policies have
failed to address the issues involving increasing treatment
Arthur Okwemba, a Kenyan media analyst, urged African
governments not to rely on falling prevalence rates to measure
successes in combating HIV/AIDS. "We should not rely on
prevalence because of its volatility; we need to move to
HIV/AIDS incidence studies to determine the number of new
infections from every locality," he said.