Home | News    Monday 11 August 2008

War and poverty driving up HIV cases in Sudan

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August 10, 2008 (KHARTOUM) — Poverty and the movement of war-displaced populations have driven the number of HIV/AIDS infections higher in Sudan, though a lack of data is preventing health officials from getting a full picture of the virus’ spread, experts said Sunday.

Sudanese and United Nations AIDS experts told reporters in the capital, Khartoum, that an estimated 1.6 percent of Sudan’s 37 million people were infected. But they cautioned that the real number was certainly higher and that better tracking would reveal that.

The increase in Sudan is contrary to a steady or declining trend among its African neighbors, such as Kenya.

In particular, the movement of large populations — those fleeing fighting in Darfur and those returning after the separate north-south conflict from areas with higher infection rates — were contributing to the spread. A peace deal in 2005 ended the 21-year conflict with rebels in the south but the war in the western region of Darfur continues and has claimed the lives of up to 300,000 people and displaced 2.5 million.

The number of infections based on the available data is thought to be between 350,000 and 600,000, and fewer than 2,000 patients are receiving regular treatment, the experts said.

Doctors and Sudanese officials speaking at a news conference said the 1.6 percent prevalence rate was surely underestimated because the data is outdated and based on surveys in a limited number of clinics, rather than a nationwide survey.

Abdel Kareem Gibreel Algoni, a Sudanese public health consultant who works in South Africa, said the spread of HIV is affected by poverty and illiteracy, both prevalent in Sudan.

"For Sudan practically now we are like in South Africa in the ’90s," he said. "The virus is not that clever. We can overcome but it works on our ignorance, both political ignorance, economic ignorance and personal ignorance."

Algoni was among those who attended a U.N.-sponsored workshop in Khartoum for some 60 Sudanese physicians on the clinical management of HIV over the last three weeks.

According to the latest U.N. survey, selected regions in Sudan had between 1 percent and 3 percent infection rates. But Algoni said in his hometown of Abyei, south of Khartoum, some 18 percent of the population was seeking treatment for sexually transmitted infections at mobile clinics he privately set up. "Most probably, they will also have HIV."

Another physician at the workshop said doctors in hospitals in Khartoum and around it are reporting an average of three to five newly diagnosed HIV patients every day.

"We need to do something about it," said Zahir Babikr, who works as a specialist in infectious diseases in Manchester, England.

A nationwide survey has yet to be carried out, and conducting one without a reliable, updated census would be difficult, they said. A national survey expected this year has been delayed until next year because of a lack of funds.

A serious response to HIV/AIDS began only two years ago in Sudan and only recently did the country’s religious leaders deem the use of condoms permissible, said Musa Bungudu, the head of UNAIDS Sudan. The use of contraceptives is not a universally accepted practice among Islamic scholars, most of whom oppose birth control.

Neighboring countries, such as Kenya and Uganda, have much higher rates of infection — 5 and 7 percent, respectively — but are showing signs of a decrease.

Sudan has the highest prevalence rate in the Middle East and North Africa and is the country where the virus is growing more widespread, beyond urban areas.

The U.N. AIDS program said the virus in Sudan is spread mainly through sex, not drug abuse. Stigma continues to make prevention and advocacy a challenge. Sudan has no national condom campaign, and HIV centers remain primarily in large hospitals in cities, inaccessible for most of the population.

Mohamed Abdel Hafeez, the manager for the National AIDS program, said that southern and eastern Sudan, as well as the capital, are believed to have the highest number of cases because of the return of large numbers of refugees from countries were HIV is more prevalent.

He said training for physicians and combatting the stigma associated with the disease, particularly among doctors, as well as resources to remote areas are all still lacking.

(AP)

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  • 11 August 2008 03:10, by Lago Gatjal Riaka

    Please stop representing Africa negatively. The same thing the West had been doing since the beginning of civilization still at the stake. Previously, Africa was represented as savage, uncivilize, primitive continent, and jungles.

    These preceptions about Africa and her people change the way others see Africa and her people. The West is still representing Africa negatively in the present days.

    There was never time these conspiritors say something good about the continent although them the ones who think are coming to the continent as helpers are conspiring against Africans by causing causing wars.

    repondre message

    • 11 August 2008 11:03, by Doggie

      Brother I agree with you on that!

      But (this is my take)on the contrary it’s NOT the WEST that has a problem.

      It’s us cos we tend to think All is Impossible .

      We are meant to Believe that the West are the only source of Assistance.

      HIV/AIDS is a global pandermic,but where does it hit the Most?... HERE .

      We look for Donations inorder to combat what we acquired.

      We have the Resources and it’s obviuos that we know we hv the possiblities but we are just far too LAZY and IGNORANT !!

      The money comes and it’s channelled elsewhere.

      I just fear for Southern Sudan cos their is Rampant Prostitution going on Right now in Juba.

      In the nxt 2yrs or so,we will be subject to Extinction cos you know the Mentality of most of us.
      ’’You can’t tell me wat to do,who are you,Do you think am a fool’’?

      All out of Ignorant .

      But yes,the West look at us as Vulnerable bcos we are vulnerable in some aspect.

      Africa has NEVER donated money to the West it’s the other way round.
      And that’s why they look at us as INFERIOR to them .

      Our own conflicts and crisis are resolved or influenced by them.
      Without the West we would have solutions to our own Problems.

      But I still agree that they look at us negatively and that’s why we don’t have a voice in their DIPLOMATIC issues

      Let’s hope Junub will have PRODUCTIVE LEADERS in the near future that will be COMPETENT enough to solve our own cause.

      Since we have the Resources...WHY NOT?!

      repondre message

  • 4 June 2009 15:43, by Markoni

    what HIV/AIDS! It is we Sudanese who allowed our boarder to any person coming accross without restriction nor making any tests and that is why so many cases & breakouts are now arising and prevailing. Therefore, in Sudan when trying to go abroad like Kenya for example there are so many tests and even vaccination being maid. Without yellow card you will not see Kenya and if so what is wrong in Sudan?

    Thanks,

    Markoni Mou Lueth

    repondre message

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