Monthly Archives: October 2011

LASS Secures Funding To Help Make The Big Society A Reality In The East Midlands.

LASS has secured funding of £49,000 from the Skills Funding Agency as part of the new Adult and Community Learning Fund, to help people living with HIV to get back into training, volunteering and work through personal development and skills and confidence building.

The Adult and Community Learning Fund, from the Skills Funding Agency and managed by NIACE, will contribute to the Government’s aspirations for Informal Adult and Community Learning. The fund will help build the Big Society through learning to support independence, personal development, mental/physical health and well-being, digital inclusion, democratic engagement, social cohesion and stronger families and communities.

The BOLD (Better Off Learning Directly) project at LASS will work with 32 people in the city, county and other regional centres. It will provide intensive eight week courses to help people build skills and confidence, as well as knowledge, to help them re-engage in education and work. Skills in managing their HIV status will also be a key part of the programme. After the eight weeks participants will also have the option to go on to further training as mentors, ‘expert patients’ (people who have enhanced knowledge as to how to manage their long term condition) and even to train as trainers of expert patients.

Jenny Hand, Chief Executive Officer of LASS, comments:

“LASS is delighted to be the only successful bidder locally for this funding. The opportunities BOLD presents for local people living with HIV are very exciting. Often people become isolated and experience significant loss of confidence when they are diagnosed with HIV. BOLD will help them regain their confidence and realise that today, with the proper care and self-management, they can live normal, healthy lives for many years to come.”

Geoff Russell, Chief Executive of the Skills Funding Agency, said:

“Each project that has secured funding from the Adult and Community Learning Fund will make a tremendous difference to the lives of individuals and to the communities they are part of. Skills and lifelong learning should be at the heart of every community and the Government is committed to making that happen with its vision for the Big Society.”

Carol Taylor, Deputy Chief Executive of NIACE, added,

“NIACE is proud to have the role of supporting Skills Funding Agency in managing the Adult and Community Learning Fund. The response to this bid has been staggering – we received over 2400 bids. Deciding which of the projects should receive funding has been incredibly tough, however this means that the very best projects will be starting work soon and transforming the lives of local people and local communities.”

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Consultation To Start On Managing Urgent Care In Loughborough

Members of the public are being invited to have their say on the Walk-In Centre and the future of urgent care in Loughborough and surrounding areas.

West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (WLCCG), which will be responsible for commissioning or ‘buying’ local healthcare from April 2013, has been looking at urgent care services locally and how they are provided.

The CCG wants to ensure that when people need urgent care they can receive it as effectively as possible, whilst looking to work with other parts of the NHS to ensure that local services such as the community hospital are as effective as possible in bringing care closer to home.

As part of this a 12-week public consultation started last Wednesday (19 October) [Ed: We only received this news today, sorry for the delay], which offers two options:

· Option one is urgent care at the current Walk-In Centre at Pinfold Gate

· Option two is urgent care provided at Loughborough Hospital in Epinal Way

Option two is the preferred option as the hospital, which is 1.6 miles from Pinfold Gate, can provide more access to diagnostic tests, including more extended access to x-rays, potential access to ultrasound scans and blood tests. There are also beds where there is potential for patients to be kept in for observation and further potential for access to clinicians already working in the hospital.

Dr Nick Willmott, a GP and chairman of the group planning the development of urgent care in West Leicestershire, said: “This consultation is about enhancing services and making sure that patients receive the best care in the most appropriate setting for their health needs.

“We believe that our plans will provide an enhanced service for those who need urgent care, whilst we continue to encourage people to see their GPs when possible for less urgent needs.  Moving the Walk-In Centre could bring care closer to home for many patients accessing the urgent care service and could mean they wouldn’t have to travel into Leicester. It would also avoid duplication of services locally.”

Dr Edward Clode-Baker, of Parkview Surgery, added:

“GPs want, wherever possible, to be the first port of call if you’re in doubt about what care you need. We are doing all we can to improve access both to telephone advice and seeing patients appropriately. This will free up services at the Walk-In Centre to treat those with urgent need.”

The project group developing the proposals included GPs, a representative of Leicestershire Local Involvement Network (LINk), a patient representative, and officers of the West Leicestershire CCG. Feedback has also been received from staff at the Walk-In Centre, local government colleagues and the local MP. Leicestershire LINk has been involved in the consultation process and the engagement event held in August, and will be monitoring developments closely on behalf of patients and the public.

NHS West Midlands Clinical Commissioning Group have produced a document: “Loughborough Walk-In Centre, Managing Urgent Care In Loughborough – A Public Consultation” (pdf).  This document gives you the background to their public consultation about the Walk-In Centre and urgent care in Loughborough.

The Walk-In Centre provides urgent care services in Pinfold Gate for people living in or near Loughborough. they have proposals about how people can receive these services in future, and we need to understand what local people think about these proposals. They propose to create an urgent care centre
at Loughborough Hospital which will be supported by all the services available at
that centre. We believe this will produce an enhanced service for the local population with the coming together of the professional expertise and diagnostic services that can be provided by Loughborough Hospital. This can only be achieved by the movement of the Walk-In Centre and the resources that
support it.

Please take a few moments to read through the document, and then to answer the questions at the end.  The information and questionnaire are also
available online, at http://www.lcr.nhs.uk

During the consultation people will be able to have their say in a questionnaire which will be available from the Walk-In Centre, local libraries, GP surgeries and council buildings, as well as online by visiting http://www.lcr.nhs.uk before 11 January 2012. It will also be available to fill in at a series of public meetings, which take place on:

For more information, or to request a questionnaire via post, please call Jo Lilley on 0116 295 7626 or email jo.lilley@lcr.nhs.uk

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Leicestershire Community Calendar 2012

LASS’s Social Enterprise Well For Living launched a new initiative to help raise funds and awareness for Community Organisations and Charities.

Twelve different organisations, came together and developed a Community Calendar designed to encourage community involvement and help raise funds in this difficult climate.   The calendar also highlights important dates for the sector, such as Volunteers Week.

All Charities featured work to improve the lives of people living in Leicester and Leicestershire, and all are featured together in a calendar to display their good work throughput the year.

Read more about it at Well For Living.  http://www.wellforliving.co.uk/

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Religion, HIV & Mental Health

This week, Nina Lakhani reported on the disturbing case of the Evangelical Christian Church which has been encouraging members of its congregation to cease taking medication altogether in favour of prayer alone.

The report revealed that three people died after discontinuing Anti Retro Viral treatment on recommendation of their pastor. In addition, it was also reported that a man committed suicide after following the advice of a pastor who convinced him to stop taking medication, believing that he was not suffering from a mental health illness. The cases are tragic and disturbing, but also highlight the gross misunderstandings that exist surrounding certain illnesses amongst religious communities and religious leaders.

In the case of mental health, there still exists a plethora of erroneous beliefs about mental health, ranging from ideas about aetiology to treatment. There exists a longstanding and often cited belief that “evil spirits” are a source of psychosis. In addition, amongst religious communities, I have often heard people with mental health illnesses such as depression being described as “being weak in faith”. Or that depression does not “exist” in Islam or Christianity. Such comments are not only flagrantly incorrect but are destructive to those with mental health problems and simply accentuate the stigma and discrimination that they already face.

In the case of HIV, a myriad of myths have circulated regarding both the causes and treatment of HIV which have been prevalent for decades. Recently, whilst I was in Ethiopia, I heard anecdotes of congregants of a church who had abandoned their Anti Retroviral treatment and opted, instead to bathe in holy river water.  It is worth mentioning, that bathing in holy water in itself is not necessarily a harmful practice, but discontinuing Anti Retroviral treatment against medical advice, is.

Kaiser Khan is well versed in navigating the religious beliefs of people living with HIV. Khan is the Muslim and Middle Eastern Support Coordinator at Naz Project London, the sexual health and HIV prevention and support service aimed at Black and Minority Ethnic Communities (BME), and has over 15 years experience of working with people living with HIV, who  often espouse to a particular religious faith.

“We don’t ignore religion” says Khan.

He explains further:  “a great proportion of our work is geared towards encouraging our clients to understand the medication that they are taking, to adhere to them, to understand the side effects, the regimen; so that they can be fully empowered to look after their health, this is not possible without taking medication”. “However, another part is to encourage resilience…and many of our clients feel that religion is important to them; it offers solace, hope and faith”.

One noteworthy person who understands the importance of both the physical and spiritual is Canon Gideon Byamugisha,  Canon Gideon was the first African religious leader to openly announce his HIV positive status and has expressed how ARVs and the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV have enabled him to have a healthy life and two HIV negative children. In his book, “Church communities confronting HIV and AIDS”, he clearly debunks the myths and lays science alongside Christian scripture and prayer.

Whatever our own personal views about religion, one must appreciate that a vast proportion of the world adheres to a particular religion or faith.

Physicians and health professions need to be cognizant of both the positive and negative role of religious leaders to patients’ health and well being, whilst also being religiously and culturally sensitive.

In addition, religious leaders need to be informed and educated about the causes and remedies of medical illnesses so that they can offer pastoral support to their congregation, which is appropriate, constructive and at the very least, not detrimental.

Original Article By Dr Sima Barmania at The Independent

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Telephone’s Working Again (& Preventing HIV with social media and mobile phones)!

We are pleased to state, our Telephone’s are working again, you may call us on the usual number: 0116 2559995.

How do you use your phone? Preventing HIV with social media and mobile phones

With more than 7 000 people newly infected with HIV everyday and 1 000 of these new infections occurring in South Africa, Stellenbosch University just outside Cape Town, was the ideal setting of a high level panel discussion on how social media and mobile technology has been and can be leveraged to prevent new HIV infections.

“The potential of new technologies to re-energize the AIDS-movement is clear. We need nothing less than an HIV prevention revolution, with social media and mobile technology at its core,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS in his opening remarks.

Two panels one—on social media one on mobile technology—were livestreamed via the UNAIDS page on Facebook. The discussions brought together technology leaders, AIDS activists, and social media experts to share ideas of how these new tools can be integrated as part and parcel of HIV prevention programmes.

Mobilizing social networks for HIV and young people

During the social media session, a work in progress project was presented by Mr Ian Royer, a delegate at the recent Global Youth Summit on HIV in Mali. Participants at the summit launched a collaborative social media campaign together with an outcome document aimed at mobilizing youth organizations and networks globally to endorse the summit’s call to action. The website www.whatabouthiv.org is the hub of this initiative.

“So far we have had more than 1 000 endorsements and engaged more than 7 000 people from all around the world. Social media is an ideal tool to mobilize young people,” said Mr Royer. “We are scaling up our effort in the lead up to the High Level Meeting on AIDS in June to make sure that our call to action is heard loud and clear!”

With social media being all about two way conversations, the panelists took questions from Twitter and Facebook posed by people following the discussion online. Tweeter @baruchdom made the following comment: “Remember that the majority of  Sex Workers and Drug Users and trans people don’t have access to internet or social networking.”

A reply came from panelist Helen Alexander, with the Sonke Gender Justice Network:  “In South Africa at least, the cell phone is an important tool of the trade for sex workers, as it helps them connect to their clients, and helps to keep them safe. So mobile phones are actually a great way to reach sex workers. It’s anonymous, you don’t have to track people down, and often these are people who are not comfortable coming to a community event,” said Ms Alexander.

Mobile platforms for social change

There are 500 million cell phones in Africa, and mHealth or mobile health is increasingly recognized as an effective channel for HIV programming.

We need nothing less than an HIV prevention revolution, with social media and mobile technology at its core. “How can we begin to maximize the use of mobile technology for HIV prevention?” asked Marlon Parker Founder of Reconstructed Living Lab, a South African social enterprise. “We have to use this technology to educate, engage and empower people—and we can take this beyond the platforms to offline action!”

Ms Debbie Rogers, Lead Strategist of Praekelt Foundation, shared lessons learned from their free mobile platform Young Africa Live, which among other things aims to prevent new HIV infections in South Africa. According to Ms Rogers, the platform has reached 32 million page views and more than 950,000 comments posted since its launch.

App-development competition for HIV prevention launched

The internet and social media are widely used by young people everywhere—including low income countries. These tools have the potential to deliver HIV prevention programmes in a cost-effective way to young people through a media that they are already using.

To move forward this agenda, Ms Olga Rudnieva, Executive Director, Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation, closed the event by announcing a competition for developing social media and/mobile applications for HIV prevention.

“By the end of the next week the criteria will be on the UNAIDS website. The challenge is to come up with a social network project with or without mobile applications to prevent HIV. We are welcoming projects up to USD 10 000. You have to be creative, innovative, do something good for you and for your community!” said Ms Rudnieva.

In the lead up to the High Level Meeting on AIDS, the social media and mobile technology for HIV prevention panels were co-hosted by UNAIDS and Stellenbosch University. It is part of UNAIDS strategy to inspire and catalyze young people to use social media to ignite an HIV prevention revolution.

Original article via UnAIDS

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Telephones Out of Service

Due to circumstances beyond our control, our telephones are currently out of service.

We are working on a solution, in the meantime, please contact our services on:

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Our Telephones are working again, please call us on the normal number: 0116 2559995

Last updated 11:24am 24th October 2011

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Other Interesting Stuff We Didn’t Post But Want You To Know

It’s been busy this week, with 14 articles posted in the last 5 days, we hope we’re not flooding your mailbox with too much news.  Here’s more interesting stuff we found but didn’t have time to post, we hope you find it informative.

Professionals attack the BBC for putting teachers at risk after its decision to broadcast a clip during Sunday Morning Live that compared sex education teachers to paedophiles.  Martin Robbin’s from the Guardian asks the question: Why did the BBC broadcast a clip comparing sex education teachers to paedophiles?

Prisoners in Zimbabwe are being denied condoms despite high rates of HIV – because homosexuality is illegal.  The Prison Service said last week that condoms could “encourage” illegal gay sex among the 13,000-strong prison population.

Interested in the criminality of HIV transmission? – This is a report of a man found guilty of transmitting HIV despite informing his partner (US Story) – you may find this article unsettling.  (Read more about Criminal Prosecutions here, and be sure to read up on RITA too)!

This week was ‘National Baking Week’ (who decides this stuff)? And Celebs have been baking for National AIDS Trust.  (Could you do better and bake us awareness cakes for World AIDS Day)? – Contact the Sexual Health Team with your ideas!

The diseases of ageing develop earlier in patients with HIV than in the general population, Italian investigators report in the online edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases.  Their findings suggest that an aggressive approach to the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of non-infectious comorbidities is warranted as part of the routine healthcare for HIV-infected patients.

If you think ageing before your time is scary, you won’t like the results from a recent small study suggesting that a variant of HIV that infects a slow-growing type of cell, called a macrophage, in the fluid surrounding the spine and brain of some people with HIV may be linked to HIV-associated dementia.

Remember that bizarre reporting about catching HIV from Garra rufa fish pedicures? – We weren’t the only ones who thought it was ridiculous.  The times have posted about it and NHS Choices say the evidence used was anecdotal.

Professor William Jarrett, who died on August 27 aged 83, was a veterinary pathologist whose research led to advances in the understanding of both animal and human diseases, including leukaemia and HIV.  Read his Science Obituary here.

Do you remember the Iconic ’80s television show Prisoner? It challenged its viewers with controversial topics like sexuality, rape and murder, so it’s no surprise former stars of the Australian series are coming together once again to look at another confronting issue – HIV among women

And finally, would you like to get to know us a little better?  We’re having a social evening at the Cuisine of India restaurant on Monday, 21st November, most of the staff will be there along with a number of volunteers and friends.  There is a small catch though, it’s a fundraising session so you’ll have to pay for the meal but don’t worry, half of the proceeds are going to LASS.  If you’d like to come along, read this and let us know if you’ll be there, we’d like to meet you.

That’s all for this week, remember, you can change how frequently you get your emails by clicking “Manage Subscriptions” at the bottom of your email.  You can get updates as soon as we post, on a daily or weekly basis and if you’re just passing by, why not subscribe?

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HIV Diagnosis Progress Hampered by Inaccurate Online Information

Inaccurate and out-of-date online information about HIV is hampering efforts to improve early diagnosis rates, the National Aids Trust (NAT) has warned.

National AIDS Trust have set up HIVaware.org.uk, run in partnership with Durex.The charity carried out an audit of websites featuring information on HIV and other sexual health issues and found that much information was incorrect or out of date.

NAT chief executive Deborah Jack told GPonline.com that information about symptoms in particular was often inaccurate and represented a ‘missed opportunity’ to improve early diagnosis rates.

‘Given that we know that the majority of new infections are from people who are themselves undiagnosed – many of them at an early stage of infection – this is a real missed opportunity to educate people,’ she said.

‘There is no information about what the most common symptoms are what someone should do if they experience symptoms after putting themselves at risk.’

She said websites often stated that many people have no symptoms of HIV infection for years, even though 70%-90% of people have some symptoms during sero-conversion.

HIVaware.org.uk, will also be contacting publishers of inaccurate online information ‘to identify the content that needs updating and make suggestions as to how it can be improved’.

Ms Jack said the most common area where information was out of date is around testing. A number of sites state that laboratories can only test for HIV antibodies, whereas they can now test for antigens and nearly all clinics use these tests, she said.

Websites also inaccurately stated that there is no point in taking a test for at least three months and that patients need to wait for your test to be sent off to a laboratory to get your results, she said. In fact, antigen tests provide accurate results from four weeks after potential infection and point of care tests, which provide results in 20 minutes, are now being used in a number of settings.

Original Article by Tom Moberly at GPOnline.com

Are you interested in having a HIV test?  We offer a completely free and confidential rapid HIV test and you’ll get the results within 60 seconds from a simple finger prick test. We use the Insti HIV test produced by BioLytical laboratories. The test is 99.96% accurate from 90 days post contact for detecting HIV 1 and 2 antibodies. We also have a mobile testing van which is often out in communities providing mobile rapid HIV tests. Appointments are not always necessary, if you would like a test, please contact us on 0116 2559995

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Vote for Pozitude! The Website by Children Living With HIV

There are lots of websites out there which can give you help, advice and knowledge about HIV, and Pozitude stands out from the crowd.. read on to hear all about it and what YOU can do help them win an award for harnessing technology to bring about positive social change.

Pozitude is a website set up by a group of children who are living with HIV and they offer more than a simple website.  They offer a special place where the clock stops and you can navigate your way without running out of time.  Young people and parents alike can use this space as a good place to find out about HIV and what it’s like to live with HIV.

Some people still don’t have access to clear, easy to understand information about HIV so Pozitude decided to put together all sorts of information.

Sponsored by The Big Lottery, they asked for help from doctors, nurses, and other people who know about HIV and they hope that you will suggest anything that you might think would help a young person finding out they are HIV positive.

Visit whenever you like, learn about the facts, the fantasies, the realities and the myths about living with HIV. Ask questions and share ideas, come and find friends, but most important keep a positive attitude about your journey ahead.

Michelle Overton is a project manager at Pozitude, and she’s been nominated for Talk Talk’s Digital Heroes Award.  Babita Wakelin, who nominated Michelle  said, “Michelle is inspirational, but the kids using Pozitude are also truly Digital Heroes!” Pozitude says that the grant would enable it to update its websites and digital offerings as well as to develop a Facebook application that will help reduce the stigma associated with HIV.

Pozitude would also like to develop a smartphone application that will help young people who have moved away from home remember to take their medication at their set times.

The TalkTalk Digital Heroes Awards is an awards and funding scheme with a difference: it is the UK’s only scheme which recognises people who harness digital technology to bring about positive social change in their communities.

The TalkTalk Digital Heroes Awards, with Citizens Online and in association with The Mirror – and supported by Race Online 2012 – offers people a chance to win funding for a new or existing digital project.

If Pozitude wins the Digital Heroes competition, they can win a prize of £5,000 and if they win the East Midlands regional contest, they will be entered into a national final and could win £10,000 so what are you waiting for?

They answer questions such as “Is HIV The Same As AIDS“? “Who to Tell“? along with practical information like healthy eating (with recipes) and issues such as employment and faith.

They even have a section for parents and professionals which offer help and support for talking to children about HIV and the impacts it can have on life.

Leicestershire AIDS Support Services are voting for them, and we hope you do too! So visit Talk Talk’s Digital Hereo’s website and vote for Michelle Overton

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Gaddafi’s HIV Shakedown

Zakia Saltani has been warned not to talk to the press. She doesn’t care. She has waited 13 years to tell her story, and the Libyan government’s threats can’t stop her now. “After what happened to my family, what more can they do?” she asks. “I am beyond fear.”

At her friend’s house in Benghazi, with the red-black-and-green flag of the anti-Gaddafi rebellion spread proudly across her shoulders, she shows a framed photograph of her son, Ashur. He died of AIDS-related complications in May 2005, when he was 8. He had been one of more than 400 Libyan children who were admitted to the Al Fateh pediatric hospital in Benghazi 13 years ago with routine complaints like colds and earaches. They left with HIV. Like Ashur, roughly 60 have since died. Others are hanging on.

Until the Feb. 20 liberation of Benghazi by anti-Gaddafi protesters, the regime was able to bully people like Saltani into silence. Meanwhile, the government blamed the outbreak on five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor at the hospital, falsely accusing them of deliberately infecting their young patients, and sentencing them to death. The medics were finally released in 2007, but not before the regime had extorted an Eastern European debt-forgiveness package and roughly three quarters of a billion dollars in supposed compensation and health-care assistance, together with a civilian nuclear-development deal and a “very good military accord” (in the words of Gaddafi’s British-educated son Saif al-Islam) with the French government “and other confidential stuff we shouldn’t discuss on the record,” the smiling Saif told NEWSWEEK at the time.

Now Saltani and other ordinary Libyans are starting to speak out at last. She says this is the first interview she has ever given—and her anger against Muammar Gaddafi and his 41-year dictatorship begins to spill out. “On Feb. 2, 1998, we went to the hospital because Ashur had a fever and a cough,” she says. “He was 4 months old, and we stayed two days. We went back two weeks later for the same problems.” Shortly afterward she took her 5-year-old daughter, Mouna, to the same hospital with a high fever. Mouna also went home with HIV, although at the time Saltani had no way of knowing that either child had become infected.

The truth began to emerge a few months later. “In October we learned that the doctors were hiding something,” Saltani recalls. “They said there was something in his blood that they couldn’t identify. The head of the hospital told us not to say anything. When we found out it was HIV, the government told us the infection originated from outside Libya, and that it only affected 10 kids. Another doctor even tried to convince us that it wasn’t HIV, but tuberculosis.” When the families finally discovered just how many children had been infected, the regime sent many of the patients to Italy for analysis and treatment.

Foreign medics made useful scapegoats—and lucrative hostages.

Even then the regime still did its best to cover up the outbreak. Mohammed El Agili, 20, says he was 8 when his parents took him to Al Fateh for an eye operation in March 1998. Three days later he returned, still dizzy from the procedure. When rumors of AIDS swept through the city, he underwent HIV testing, along with all the other children who had been admitted to the hospital in early 1998. The result came back positive. “When I found out, I ran shouting through the streets like a lunatic,” says his father, Mahmoud. “And we made sure the government heard our cries. Gaddafi invited all the families to a tent in the desert outside Sert, saying he would give us whatever we wanted, but we had to keep quiet. ‘We don’t want foreigners to become involved in this,’ Gaddafi told us. ‘We don’t want this to get out of Libya.’ He warned us that our relatives outside Libya would be in danger if we talked. We were afraid. We had to keep quiet.”

The news blackout may have suited Gaddafi’s purposes, but it didn’t help young Mohammed deal with insensitive classmates. They bullied him until he finally gave up school at 12. A rabid fan of the Real Madrid football team, he now helps his brother run a mobile-phone shop near their house. Asked about his future, the HIV patient smiles at the question’s naivete. “My generation doesn’t think about the future,” he says. “Even without this disease, Gaddafi has destroyed all our futures.”

Although the cause of the outbreak remains a mystery, outside studies implicate poor hygiene at the hospital rather than any of the conspiracy theories that abound in Libya. According to a 2002 report by Italian medical investigators, all the infected children had received intravenous fluids, antibiotics, steroids, or bronchodilators, but no blood or blood products. Saltani says she found it hard to accept the regime’s allegations against the hospital’s foreign medical workers. “At first I didn’t believe it was them,” she says. “The Palestinian doctor and the Bulgarians had always taken good care of the children, but everyone was blaming them, so we believed it. We wanted to confront them face to face, but the government wouldn’t let us.”

Still, the foreign medics made useful scapegoats—and lucrative hostages. The ransom Gaddafi received for freeing them enabled him to pay the victims’ families roughly $1 million each, helping him to buy a little more silence. For 41 years he has controlled the country through a combination of violence, intimidation, and strategic payoffs. To test the regime’s limits on free speech was to risk imprisonment, torture, and death. And old habits persist, even in liberated Benghazi, where anti-Gaddafi rallies occur daily. The current director of Al Fateh Hospital, who was working there as a doctor when the infections took place, refuses to speak as long as Gaddafi holds sway in Tripoli.

Just before Saltani’s interview, her phone rings. The caller is Ibrahim El Oraibi, the representative who deals with the regime on behalf of the HIV families. She puts it on speakerphone so a reporter can hear. He screams at Saltani for violating the government’s gag order. “If Tripoli finds out, they will get angry and will stop sending AIDS medication to Benghazi!” Oraibi shouts. That could be a death sentence for Saltani: she herself contracted HIV from breast-feeding Ashur. Doctors say it’s a thing that happens only rarely, but it can happen. She has been taking antiretroviral drugs for a year, and has only two months’ supply left.

But she refuses to back down. “I don’t believe anything Gaddafi says anymore,” Saltani tells Oraibi. “I have been quiet for 13 years and I’m tired of it. I want to fight.” The intermediary pleads: “Don’t talk until we receive the medicine.” Saltani is unmoved. “Gaddafi needs to go—and you can go with him,” she says. “I’ve been waiting 13 years and I’m not going to wait any longer. He’s a liar, and I’m going to talk with whomever I wish.”

She hangs up on the caller and begins her interview.

Original Article by Mike Elkiin at The Daily Beast (March 2011)

Further reading: HIV Trial in Libya (Wikipedia)

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The following video is a Documentary by Mickey Grant about the Bulgarian Nurses in Libya.  It’s titled “INJECTION – AIDS, How Gaddafi and Son murdered over 400 Libyan children”.  Gaddafi used the possibility that he was executing these nurses partly because he was angry at having to pay the several billion dollar settlement to the families of the Pan Am Lockerbie Terrorist act he was responsible for.  In effect, he told behind the scenes negotiators that he wanted that same amount of money and was even willing to sale the oil exploration rights for 1 billion.

He also wanted the prisoner released in Scotland who was convicted of planting the bomb that blew up the Pan Am plane.  He stated that if this was done, he’d release the nurses and Palestinian doctor.  BP gave him the billon and hired lawyers and “others” to engineer the release of this terrorist.

The only newspaper that covered this was the Financial Times.

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Information about the effort and influence surrounding HIV/AIDS prominent people is available here.