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African Governments Fighting HIV/AIDS Face Inadequate Health Infrastructure, "Insufficient" Involvement of HIV-Positive People, Officials Say

July 29, 2004

Inadequate health infrastructures and "insufficient" involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS pose challenges to African governments in the fight against the epidemic, officials said at the close of the U.N. Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa conference on Tuesday, the AP/Yahoo! News reports. The two-day conference, which was held in Botswana, was the second of five that aim to provide Africa with an opportunity to examine all aspects of the continent's HIV/AIDS epidemic. "We as policy makers are making decisions without listening to community needs," Lisa Jamu, deputy representative for Population Services International in Botswana, said. Dr. Banu Khan, head of Botswana's National AIDS Coordinating Agency, said that African governments "spent too much time analyzing literature" concerning the disease and "not enough time acting on it," according to the AP/Yahoo! News. He added that many communities are "slipping through the cracks" due to poor communication with state governments as well as "inadequate" health care systems, the AP/Yahoo! News reports. The same problems also make many programs to prevent mother-to-child transmission -- which have been established in 91% of countries in sub-Saharan Africa -- "ineffective," according to a report issued by the World Health Organization, the AP/Yahoo! News reports. Officials said efforts to improve long-term emergency responses to the epidemic, share skills between government and civil society, clarify the roles of governments and other agencies and provide early education to combat stigma and discrimination are needed. The next conference will be held in Ethiopia Sept. 29-30 (AP/Yahoo! News, 7/27).

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