Sunday, July 29, 2012

AIDS 2012

Two news items from the 19th International AIDS Conference held last week in Washington. Over 20,000 people gathered for the biennial meeting.

1. AIDS and Women

A shift in the emphasis of PMTCT (Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission) programming towards viewing women not solely as the deliverers of babies, but as people who deserve to live in their own right, was called for at the conference. Despite significant progress in preventing mother to child transmission, Dr. Chewe Luo of UNICEF cautioned that there needs to be a shift that includes focusing on treatment for women.
This means that regardless of CD4 count, pregnant women should start anti-retroviral therapy for life, instead of just the pregnancy period. Ultimately this therapy could lead to fewer children orphaned by AIDS, and an increased likelihood that a woman’s subsequent babies would be protected. [CD4 or T-cells are part of the immune system. The number of CD4 cells in a drop of blood is an indication of the progression of HIV and possibly AIDS.]
Women are both biologically and culturally more vulnerable to infection. Young women between 15 and 24 account for around 70% of the total number of young people living with HIV. Among this age group, females are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence, discrimination and self-esteem issues that might make it difficult to negotiate condom use.
Continuing the emphasis on gender equality, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Geeta Rao Gupta affirmed that all young women should be afforded the same support as expectant mothers if progress is to be made. "These adolescent girls and young women represent an unfinished agenda in the AIDS response," she stated.

2. Investment in prevention and treatment

Domestic investment on HIV and AIDS has for the first time exceeded global international investment on the epidemic, according to a new report released by UNAIDS called Together We Will End AIDS.
  • International assistance has largely remained the same from 2006 to 2011. 
  • Conversely, domestic spending on HIV and AIDS has increased by more than 50% in 81 countries. 
  • Sub-Saharan Africa (except South Africa) increased public investment by a staggering 97%
  • Low and middle-income countries are progressively taking ownership and becoming accountable for their own AIDS epidemic.
The report shows that the number of AIDS-related deaths and new HIV infections have both declined from 2010. It also states that the number of people accessing treatment in low and middle-income countries is up by 20% from last year, to just over half of those who are eligible.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Updates from South Africa

These are summaries of reports received from South Africa where Angels funds go to St. Mary's Hospital's Born to Live program, and the Tembalethu Orphanage.
1. Progress report on St. Mary's Hospital Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT)
"The overall aim of our programme is to prevent and reduce the transmission of HIV from the mother to the unborn baby, ensure that all pregnant mothers know their HIV status before they deliver, and that all exposed babies are fully immunised up to 18 months.
An African Union Commission plan to reduce maternal mortality throughout Africa includes a focus on best practices. During the launch of the South African component of the initiative in KwaZulu Natal province, St. Mary's Hospital was honoured to be requested to showcase its outstanding performance regarding Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission. This is a testament to the hospital's ongoing commitment towards the reduction of mother to child transmission of HIV.
Currently donations including yours are allocated to operational costs of maintaining the high standard of performance in this prevention programme. We are ever grateful for the support received to be able to deliver such a comprehensive, high calibre programme to our beneficiaries."
African AIDS Angels donated $13,477 to the program this year.
2. Thembalethu Orphanage
"The children and the sisters are doing well. With some of the money received, we sent a sister to attend the trainer's course on 'HIV/AIDS and the care of Orphans and Vulnerable Children' so she can help train our caregivers on the same.
We continue to pay for an after-school teacher who does tremendous work helping the older children who may have never been to school, and in turn they can help the younger children.
Some of the money we are saving for the building of a cottage in order to improve the living accommodation for the children.
[A hospital formerly operating on the site was moved 20 kilometres away in the late 90s. The sisters recognized the pressing need to assist HIV/AIDS orphans and used the old wards to accommodate the children. In 2005 the government legislated nationwide that children should be housed in cottages of no more than 6 with a housemother in a more homely environment.]
"We have a plan and a builder but we are short of funds. Each cottage costs about $8400 and we need to build six of them. If we can build a cottage with the money from African AIDS Angels, we will ask you to name the cottage. We hope with the help from you together we can do it."
Sr. Andrea
African AIDS Angels donated $10,600 this year: $7614 to the orphanage, and $2985 for an outreach program.

Monday, July 02, 2012

New treasurer

If you have collected money on behalf of African AIDS Angels or wish to make a cash donation, we have a new treasurer and a new address.

Brian Price has been on the Board for the past two years and is a qualified accountant.
Please write cheques or money orders payable to African AIDS Angels: do not make them out to Brian.
      Brian Price
      23-4051 Shelbourne St.
      Victoria BC   V8N 3E5
       tel. 250-721-3763

Questions should still be directed to the general AIDS Angels email address.

Current board members are:
Vic Parsons
Pierre Dil
Carol Sherwood
Brian Price
Sandra Dennis
Laura How
Nathan How
Barb McKrow.

Volunteers for Sale Tables

UPDATE: The volunteer spots for July are now full. If you would like to volunteer for the next Moss Street Market on Saturday August 25 between 9 and 2, please send an email.

In Victoria we are looking for volunteers at an outdoor sale table in July. Shifts are usually 2 to 3 hours.
NOW FULL Sat. July 14 - James Bay Market, Superior St. at Menzies St. 8am (set-up) to 3 pm.
Please send an email to if you are interested.

You can also find us at the Moss Street Market (Moss St. near Fairfield Rd.) on Saturday July 28 from 10 am to 2 pm. We have enough volunteers for this one already.

Me to We Contest

Congratulations to Nathan How for winning his age category in the Me to We contest. African AIDS Angels will be receiving $5000 as a result. (See the blog item below from May 27 if you missed the details.)

Watch for news in the September issue of Canadian Living magazine. Thanks to all of you who voted to make this happen.

Supply Depot in Victoria

The supply depot in Victoria is at Linda Foley's house by appointment for July and August. She has angel bodies and hot glue sticks, and will accept completed angels.

The address is
4310 Maltwood Lane
(off Emily Carr Drive & Maltwood Terrace in the high Quadra/Broadmead area)  map

Many thanks go to Linda for doing this.