Tag Archives: Uganda

Canon Gideon Byamugisha visits Leicester (7th July to 13th July)

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A week of opportunities to build your knowledge and understanding about HIV and other social issues from a personal perspective with Canon Gideon Byamugisha

Who is Canon Gideon Byamugisha?
Rev Canon Dr Gideon B. Byamugisha is an ordained priest in the Anglican Church of Uganda. In 1992, he became the first African religious leader to openly declare his HIV-positive status. He has since devoted his life to an HIV / AIDS ministry which has taken him to over 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and many other parts of the world.

Gideon is driven by a passion for the dignity and rights of all people, especially those marginalised, stigmatised and discriminated against because of their HIV positive status. He has played leading roles in the Church of Uganda’s AIDS program, the Uganda AIDS Commission, World Vision International, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, Christian AID, special conferences of the United Nations, and in founding the African Network of Religious Leaders Living With or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS.

Rev. Canon Dr Gideon Byamugisha in Leicester
Canon Gideon is in Leicester & the area supporting different LASS events from 7th July to 13th July. Canon Gideon’s visit theme is “Love (in any language) fluently spoken heals”. “Reaching & sustaining zero new HIV infections, zero household level poverty, zero youth unemployment & zero socially sanctioned violence”

The following are open to the public and you are very welcome to come to one or more of these.

HIV & Belief Session
Wednesday 9th July 2014: 10 – 1pm
Venue: LASS (53 Regent Road, Leicester LE1 6YF)
Canon Gideon will lead this session on HIV and Belief – exploring issues about stigma, self-stigma, support for testing and condom use and reducing discrimination and prejudice.
The session will be of interest to people whose faith / belief plays an important role in their life also for those with an interest in the role that faith and belief have on people’s lives to help them cope or otherwise with a long term condition like HIV.

An audience with Canon Gideon
Thursday 10th July: 4pm – 8pm:
This is an opportunity for Faith leaders and elders to meet Canon Gideon at LASS. Come along and find out more about his ministry and the theme of this visit. Light refreshments will be served.

Football & Faith
On Saturday 12th July: LASS is holding a Football & Faith Event for all the family at Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester LE5 0TB. 6 football teams will compete for the LASS “Know your HIV Status” trophy; we will be entertained by Gospel choirs; there will be family entertainment including a Bouncy castle; address and prize giving by Canon Gideon. There will be different health information and testing available at the event including HIV testing, information about prostate cancer and blood sugar checks. Tasty food will be available to buy from different stall holders.

For Further information or a training session booking form:
Please contact LASS on 0116 2559995.

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HIV research offers hope

Issue 89 - Scaling up treatment guidelines in resource limited settings

Immediate treatment of HIV can slow the progression of the virus, a study undertaken by researchers from the University of Oxford, Imperial College London and the Medical Research Council’s Clinical Trials Unit has shown.

Antiretroviral medication taken during the early stages of infection, over a 48-week period, delays damage to the immune system and can defer the need for long-term treatment.

An estimated 34 million people suffer from HIV worldwide. The virus weakens the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to infection. In its early stages it often goes unnoticed; left unchecked, it can result in individuals being in danger of life-threatening illnesses.

The study, which took place over five years, took the form of a randomised controlled trial of antiretroviral treatment on 366 adults from Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, Spain, Uganda and the UK. It comprised mostly of heterosexual women and gay men and was funded by the Wellcome Trust.

At present, it is unusual for antiretroviral medication to be given to HIV patients in the early stages of infection. The trial randomly allocated the volunteers, who had been diagnosed with HIV no more than six months earlier, medication for 48 weeks, 12 weeks or not at all.

On average, the study found that those receiving no medication required a lifelong course of treatment 157 weeks after infection. Those receiving 12 weeks of antiretroviral medication took an average of 184 weeks before receiving lifelong treatment. Participants on the 48 week course began long-term treatment on average 222 weeks after infection.

Moreover, those receiving medication for 48 weeks had higher CD4 T-cell counts, which can reduce susceptibility to secondary infections such as tuberculosis. Adults on this course recorded lower levels of HIV in the blood, which could help reduce the risk of infection for sexual partners.

Dr Sarah Fidler, leader of the study from Imperial College London said: “These results are very promising and suggest that a year-long course of treatment for people recently infected with HIV may have some benefit on both the immune system as well as helping control the virus.”

Concerns over how cost-effective such treatment would be have been raised by some who do not deem the findings to be tremendously significant. Professor Gita Ramjee, who led the study in South Africa, commented: “We now need to weigh up whether the benefits offered by early intervention are outweighed by the strategic and financial challenges such a change in policy would incur, particularly in resource-poor settings such as Africa, although this may be where the most benefits are seen in terms of TB rates.”

Students at Oxford University have expressed interest in this new study. Fergus Chadwick, a Biologist, said: “It is really fascinating to see how theory that has been outlined in our lectures is being applied in the real world with such promising results.”

Original Article by Elizabeth Pugh at Oxfordstudent.com

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu urges Uganda to drop the “Anti Homosexuality Bill”

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Our International Patron, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been a tireless campaigner for health and human rights, and has been particularly vocal in support of controlling TB and HIV.  He is also Patron of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, a registered Section 21 non-profit organisation, and has served as the honorary chairman for the Global AIDS Alliance and is patron of TB Alert, a UK charity working internationally.  In 2003 the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre was founded in Cape Town, while the Desmond Tutu TB Centre was founded in 2003 at Stellenbosch University. Tutu suffered from TB in his youth and has been active in assisting those afflicted, especially as TB and HIV/AIDS deaths have become intrinsically linked in South Africa.

On 20 April 2005, after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as Pope Benedict XVI, Tutu said he was sad that the Roman Catholic Church was unlikely to change its opposition to condoms amidst the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa: “We would have hoped for someone more open to the more recent developments in the world, the whole question of the ministry of women and a more reasonable position with regards to condoms and HIV/AIDS.”

In 2007, statistics were released that indicated HIV and AIDS numbers were lower than previously thought in South Africa. However, Tutu named these statistics “cold comfort” as it was unacceptable that 600 people died of AIDS in South Africa every day. Tutu also rebuked the government for wasting time by discussing what caused HIV/AIDS, which particularly attacks Mbeki and Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang for their denialist stance.

Presently, Desmond Tutu urges Uganda to drop bid to jail gays and lesbians.

He has urged Uganda to scrap a controversial draft law that would send gays and lesbians to jail and, some say, put them at risk of the death penalty.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is expected to become law after Parliamentary Speaker Rebecca Kadaga offered it to Ugandans as a “Christmas gift.” The bill is believed to exclude the death penalty clause after international pressure forced its removal, but gay rights activists say much of it is still horrendous.

“I am opposed to discrimination, that is unfair discrimination, and would that I could persuade legislators in Uganda to drop their draft legislation, because I think it is totally unjust,” Tutu told reporters here on Tuesday at the All Africa Conference of Churches meeting.

Desmond Tutu is the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, and was a hero of the anti-apartheid movement, he has emerged as a leading pro-gay voice both in the church and across Africa.

With African church leaders passionately preaching against homosexuality as sinful and against African culture, Tutu said the church must stand with minorities.

“My brothers and sisters, you stood with people who were oppressed because of their skin color. If you are going to be true to the Lord you worship, you are also going to be there for the people who are being oppressed for something they can do nothing about: their sexual orientation,” he said.

Tutu said people do not choose their sexual orientation, and would be crazy to choose homosexuality “when you expose yourself to so much hatred, even to the extent of being killed.”

“Kill The Gays” bill: Read the actual bill about to be debated by Uganda’s Parliament | VIDEO

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East African Parliament Pushing for HIV/AIDS Bill

As the East African Parliament winds up their term, the members are pushing for the passing of the East African Community HIV & Aids Prevention and Management Bill 2010 so that the new Assembly starts on a fresh plate.

Speaking during the stakeholders meeting in Kampala on Friday, the EALA committee on general purposes said the Bill should be passed before June when their five-year term of office elapses.

The Bill, almost similar to the one handled by the Ugandan Parliament, seeks to get interventions to achieve zero new HIV infections, zero Aids-related deaths and zero discrimination taking into account the special needs persons, the most at risk and other vulnerable groups.

Statistics from Burundi show that 3 per cent of the 8.5 million estimated population are living with HIV/Aids. According to the United Nations Aids Service Organisation in Bujumbura, majority of the infected persons are women while the coverage of the Prevention of Mother to Child Infections is very minimal.

In Uganda, there are an estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV/Aids, including 150,000 children. An estimated 64,000 people died from Aids in 2009 and 1.2 million children have been orphaned by the scourge.

HIV/Aids burden
Meanwhile, at the East African National Networks of Aids Organisation, statistics indicate that as of 2009, East Africa had an existing burden of an estimated 4.5million persons living with HIV/Aids, 338,800 annual new HIV infections, 286,000 Aids-related deaths and 4m orphans left due to HIV-related deaths.

Although most partner states already have their own legislations like Uganda’s HIV/Aids Prevention Bill 2009, the regional law if passed, does not criminalise the transmission of the scourge like the Ugandan Bill proposes but offers shelter to people living with the infection.

The Bill is inspired by the successes of the EAC integration which includes the coming into force of the Custom Union and the Common Market Protocols.

The regional Bill also differs from the Ugandan Bill in mandatory testing and mandatory disclosure. The committee led by Margaret Ziiwa was in Uganda to consult on the country’s Aids Bill.

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AIDS Treatment is Good Value for Money, Says New Study

Orphans at the Mildmay HIV Centre in Kampala, Uganda. A funding drop has raised concern about the long-term future of the global fight against Aids and HIV. Photograph: Jon Hrusa/Pool/Reuters

It is becoming increasingly clear that Aids is going to be a loser in the struggle by wealthy governments to cut back on spending in all areas, including development. The numbers from the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) published on the Global development website on Wednesday tell the tale.

Of course, that was about bilateral aid and many Aids campaigners will be hoping the UK will make up the shortfall in contributions to the Global Fund to fight Aids, TB and Malaria. And DfID and other governments and funding bodies will rightly point out that people with HIV will benefit from increased spending on other programmes – especially those for maternal and child health.

Nonetheless, there are cold shivers running down the spines of campaigners and treatment providers in poor countries. They don’t want more stories about Aids drugs running out in Uganda and clinics that are having to turn new patients away. Aids drugs are for life, not just for Christmas – to distort the old advertising slogan about responsibility and pet animals. If people who start antiretroviral therapy have to stop, they will probably develop resistance and the drugs will no longer work for them even if they eventually get a new supply.

So a new study from the expert number-crunchers at the Results for Development Institute in Washington DC, Harvard School of Public Health and Imperial College in the UK – with help from the Global Fund – is timely. It makes the economic case for investing in Aids treatment programmes. It’s not just humane to keep people with HIV alive and healthy, says the study – it actually saves money. That may just be the only argument in these straitened times that funders will readily listen to.

The study, published by the free-access journal PloS One, is specifically aimed at helping donors wrestle with their dilemma of how best to spend their waning development budget.

The 2008-10 global recession, flattening aid budgets and fiscal tightening in many Aids-affected countries are threatening the ability of donors and countries to continue scaling up ART. In this context, policymakers deciding whether to commit additional resources to ART programmes will want to consider not only the cost and health impacts of programme continuation, but also the likely economic benefits of doing so.

They went about it by analysing the costs and benefits of continuing to treat the 3.5 million people in 98 countries who will be supported by Global Fund-financed programmes at the end of this year. Against the treatment costs they set the restored productivity of people able to work again, the savings in unneeded orphan programmes and delayed costs of medical treatment for tuberculosis and other infections that afflict those with HIV at the end of life.

Keeping these 3.5 million people alive and well would cost $14.2bn in 2011-12, they reckoned – but the financial savings would amount to between $12bn and $34bn. Robert Hecht, of Results for Development, thinks the savings will outstrip the cost. “It looks very favourable. The way we did it, the calculations are conservative,” he told me. This is the paper’s conclusion:

These results suggest that, in addition to the large health gains generated, the economic benefits of treatment will substantially offset, and likely exceed, program costs within 10 years of investment.

Let’s see whether DfID and other donor governments are convinced.

Original Article by Sarah Boseley at The Guardian

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September Round Up

If you’re reading this, the chances are you’re subscribed or receiving this news via Twitter but just in case you’re a casual browser why not stay a while, subscribe or follow us and read up on LASS and HIV/STI updates.  Here’s a brief roundup from last month’s posts

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GOVERNMENT & UK

A House of Lords Select Committee published a damning report on HIV in the UK, warning that the current priority given to HIV and Aids treatment by policy makers is ‘woefully inadequate’, and revealing that over 100,000 people in the UK will be living with the disease by next year. The Lords Select Committee on HIV and Aids in the UK also warned that the total cost of treatment would soon top £1 billion per year, and called for all new patients at GPs’ surgeries to be tested for the illness on an opt-out basis.

The Government announced last month that the rules on gay men donating blood will change from a lifetime ban to a 12 month deferral period.  This decision follows a review of the current policies around exclusion and deferral from blood donation by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO).

Employing sport to communicate HIV messages isn’t new, but one initiative aims to go further – imparting skills for planning, evaluating and funding a football-based HIV campaign
Follow LASSleics on TwitterSCIENCE

Scientists in the US have developed a strain of green-glowing cats with cells that resist infection from a virus that causes feline AIDS, a finding that may help prevent the disease in cats and advance AIDS research in people.

Raising the CD4 cell threshold for the initiation of antiretroviral therapy to 500 cells/mm3 would mean that almost 50% of patients would need to start HIV treatment within a year of their infection with HIV, investigators from an international study of seroconverters report in the October 15th edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Scientists spent a decade trying—and failing—to map the structure of an enzyme that could help solve a crucial part of the AIDS puzzle. It took online gamers all of three weeks.

Spanish researchers have completed the first human trial of a new vaccine against HIV. It has been successful in 90% of the HIV-free volunteers during phase I testing. This vaccine brings great hope to eradicate HIV forever.
Follow LASSleics on TwitterINTERNATIONAL

The Zimbabwe government says it is considering drastic measures of door-to-door HIV testing campaigns for every citizen in the country in a move to try and eliminate new HIV infections.

Linkage to facility-based HIV care from a mobile testing unit is feasible, South African researchers report in the advance online edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.  In a stratified random sample of 192 newly diagnosed individuals who had received CD4 test results, linkage to care was best among those who were ART eligible, Darshini Govindasamy and colleagues found.

The David Kato Vision & Voice Award will be presented annually, on Human Rights Day (10th December), to an individual who demonstrates courage and outstanding leadership in advocating for the sexual rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, particuarly in enviroments where these uinduvidual face continued rejection, marginalization, isolation and persecution.  David Kato, the advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda was one of Uganda’s most prominent gay rights activists until January, when he was murdered in his home weeks after winning a court victory over a tabloid that called for homosexuals to be killed.  Read more about it here.
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Each month, a registered dietician from the NHS, visits LASS to offer helpful advice and information on food nutrition and healthy eating for people who live with HIV.  Our next session “The Truth About Fats” will be on Friday, 16th September 2011 from 12:00pm.  This is an opportunity to ask questions and speak with the dietitian directly about any concerns you may have.

Well done to TRADE Sexual Health after a very successful Gay Pride.  This year’s Leicester Gay Pride saw Trade Sexual Health join forces yet again with the Leicester GUM Clinic to present the Health & Wellbeing Marquee 2011!

  • Excellent strategy, well communicated.
  • Excellent and trusted leadership.
  • Excellent coaching and mentoring across the organisation.

These are just three of the positive statements used to describe Leicestershire AIDS Support Services by Investors in People after our recent assessment.  We are proud to announce that we are now officially recognised as an investor in people organisation.

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David Kato: Gay Rights Activist, his Murder and the Vision & Voice Award

The David Kato Vision & Voice Award will be presented annually, on Human Rights Day (10th December), to an individual who demonstrates courage and outstanding leadership in advocating for the sexual rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, particuarly in enviroments where these uinduvidual face continued rejection, marginalization, isolation and persecution.

The award will be accompanied by a one time grant of US$10,000.

David Kato, the advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda was one of Uganda’s most prominent gay rights activists until January, when he was murdered in his home weeks after winning a court victory over a tabloid that called for homosexuals to be killed.

Along with other Ugandan gay activists, Kato had reported increased harassment, when a high court judge granted a permanent injunction against the Rolling Stone tabloid newspaper, preventing it from identifying homosexuals in its pages.

Late last year, Kato had been pictured on the front page of an issue carrying the headline “Hang Them”. He was one of the three complainants in the court case.

“Since the ruling, David said people had been harassing him, and warning they would ‘deal with him,'” Julian Pepe Onziema, a close friend and fellow gay rights activist, said.

“We were due to meet to discuss security arrangements, but he said he did not have money to get to town. A few hours after we spoke, his phone was off.”

Human Rights Watch said it was too early to speculate why Kato had been killed, but added that there were serious concerns about the level of protection of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Kampala.

Maria Burnett, the Uganda researcher for Human Rights Watch, urged a “real and substantive investigation” into the murder.

News of Kato’s murder came after a lesbian due to be deported from Britain to Uganda said she feared she would be killed if she was returned.

Brenda Namigadde, 29 – who fled Uganda in 2003 after being threatened over her relationship with her Canadian partner – is being held at Yarl’s Wood detention centre.

She told the Guardian Newspaper: “I’ll be tortured or killed if I’m sent back to Uganda. They’ve put people like me to death there. Most of my friends in Uganda have disappeared.”

Her initial asylum claim was rejected, in part on the basis that there was not sufficient evidence that she is a lesbian.

Ugandan society is, in general, homophobic – but in recent years the anti-gay feeling has been stoked by religious leaders, a group of US evangelicals and politicians.

In 2009, MP David Bahati introduced the anti-homosexuality bill, which calls for gay people to be imprisoned for life. Repeat offenders would face the death penalty, while Ugandans would be required to report any homosexual activity within 24 hours or face police action themselves.

Widely condemned internationally, the bill remains before parliament. Kato, human rights activist, was murdered in his home in Kampala, Uganda on 26 January 2011.

 

In recognition of his life and courage, and the continued struggle of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals around the world, partners committed to eliminating violence, stigma and discrimination have established the David Kato Vision & Voice Award.

Inspired by his work, the award recognizes the leadership of individuals who strive to uphold the numerous dimensions of sexual rights for LGBTI people. Sexual rights are an evolving set of entitlements related to sexuality that contribute to the freedom, equality and dignity of all people, and are an important aspect of human rights. The realization of these rights is also an integral element to a meaningful HIV response among these marginalized groups.

Why is this important?

The freedom to enjoy and express our sexuality is an integral facet of life, happiness and well-being. Yet, over 70 countries continue to criminalize same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults, adding a complex dimension to realizing the sexual rights of individuals.

Stigma, discrimination and violence towards LGBTI people, and repressive laws that criminalize same sex consensual acts, undermine access to sexual health and HIV-related services and cause many to hide their same-sex relationships. Even where this is not illegal, real or perceived homophobia among health workers can make individuals reluctant to access services.

To find out the situation in your country, visit the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

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