News / Africa

HIV/AIDS Epidemic Still Ravaging African Countries

Pharmacists automatically dispense medicines loaded with anti-retrovirals at the U.S.-sponsored HIV/AIDS clinic at the Helen Joseph hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nov. 15, 2012.Pharmacists automatically dispense medicines loaded with anti-retrovirals at the U.S.-sponsored HIV/AIDS clinic at the Helen Joseph hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nov. 15, 2012.
x
Pharmacists automatically dispense medicines loaded with anti-retrovirals at the U.S.-sponsored HIV/AIDS clinic at the Helen Joseph hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nov. 15, 2012.
Pharmacists automatically dispense medicines loaded with anti-retrovirals at the U.S.-sponsored HIV/AIDS clinic at the Helen Joseph hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nov. 15, 2012.

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
Major progress has been made in Africa’s fight against HIV/AIDS but one of the major problems remaining is giving the thousands living with AIDS the drug therapies that can let them live a long life.

“In terms of the reality, unfortunately the reality is that while there’s been huge progress made in the fight against AIDS, there still remains a huge amount of more to do,” said Dr. Amir Shroufi, deputy medical coordinator for MSF in South Africa. 

The international medical aid group Doctors Without Borders, also known by the acronym, MSF, recently launched a series of films entitled “See What We See” on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. 

The films highlight the reality that the fight against HIV/AIDS is not over -- despite important achievements.  The film series features first-hand accounts of patients and doctors in South Africa, Lesotho, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Asian country, Myanmar. The reports describe problems treating HIV in the field, while highlighting innovative tools and strategies that work in combating the disease. 

“Every minute, a young woman is infected with HIV,” said Dr. Shroufi, “and AIDS remains the biggest burden of disease here in South Africa and in many other African countries. And we know that worldwide, it’s thought to be the biggest burden of disease among women in the ages of 25 to 44.” He takes those numbers from a World Health Organization report.

Shroufi emphasized the huge numbers of people still in need of treatment who don’t have access to Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART). , Some countries who have done well in improving access to treatment but others have done poorly in giving access to the drug therapy.

In South Africa, for example, there has been a huge scale-up in the past two years, reaching approximately 2.4 million people.

“It’s been a huge achievement.  It’s not without gaps,” Shroufi said. One of the weaknesses in South Africa is the supply chain. “In a lot of places around the country, there have been stock-outs of essential medicine,” he said. “But it’s a country that’s shown a lot of commitment to the fight against HIV.”

Congo not making HIV drug therapies available

The Democratic Republic of Congo is highlighted in the film series as one country that is not doing well in providing needed ARTs.

“It was estimated in a paper in ‘Science’ in 2012, that only about 12 percent of people in need of Anti-Retroviral Therapy actually have access to it. The job of getting the medicine to people who need it really has not been done in some places,” the MSF doctor explained.

In most countries around the world, new HIV infections are going down.  However, in other countries new infections are rising, such as in Lesotho. 

“Lesotho has one of the highest adult prevalence’s anywhere in the world, and we think the new infections in the country, unfortunately, are rising,” said Shroufi.    

Shroufi said MSF thinks there are a number of community models that can help provide access more effectively than the traditional city hospital.

“For those people to do well, models such as community art groups,… clubs where people living with HIV become experts in the condition (and) work with each other” are a more convenient model. He said community groups help to collect medicine for each other, reducing the amount of time spent going to clinics. Such community models are being adopted increasingly in many countries because they are effective.

“Those kinds of models, we think, are very, very important,” said Shroufi.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs