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‘No to Magaya HIV and AIDS cure’

SECRETARY for Health and Child Care Gerald Gwinji yesterday said government would find it difficult to license Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries leader Walter Magaya’s alleged new cure for HIV.

BY VENERANDA LANGA/XOLISANI NCUBE

Gwinji said Magaya did not follow due process when he unveiled his Aguma herb, which he claimed could cure the virus which causes Aids.

This came amid reports that the herb was now being sold on the market for up to $1 000.

Gwinji appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care chaired by Emakhandeni-Entumbane MP Dingilizwe Tshuma to speak about the 2019 health budget.

Glen Norah MP Wellington Chikombo (MDC Alliance) asked him to explain if his ministry was happy that an HIV cure had been found, and whether government was threatened by the new territory of herbs that the prophet had now entered into.

“We do not want to quash any new discoveries or innovations, but they have to go through the right processes so that issues of safety are assured,” Gwinji said.

“We will find it difficult to license it, and it will be difficult to authorise it to be sold at pharmacies until these issues are solved, and we are only playing our regulatory role in the pharmaceutical industry.”

However, reports indicate that Magaya has already started advertising his HIV and Aids “cure” despite government’s assertion that the herb had not yetbeen approved by authorities.

30 years in prison for not disclosing HIV status

Amsterdam – Kerry Thomas is in prison in the USA, serving a 30-year sentence for having sex twice without disclosing to his partner that he was HIV positive.

Although Thomas used condoms, had an undetectable viral load and did not infect his partner, he was given two 15-year sentences to run consecutively. He has already served 10 years of his sentence.

Criminalising the transmission of HIV

Joining delegates to the International AIDS Conference by phone from his Idaho prison, Thomas said that while he regretted not disclosing his HIV status, “I worked with my doctor to protect my partner.”

“It is high time to look at the growing move to criminalise the transmission of HIV, which is often based on a misunderstanding of how HIV is and isn’t transmitted,” said Professor Linda-Gail Bekker, president of the International AIDS Society.

Twenty top scientists, including Nobel Laureate Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, released a consensus statement at the conference yesterday after reviewing the best available scientific evidence relating to HIV transmission and concluded:

  • It is not possible for an HIV positive person to transmit the virus in their saliva while kissing, biting or spitting.
  • The risk of HIV transmission from a single act of unprotected sex is very low, and there is no possibility of transmission during either vaginal or anal sex if the HIV-positive partner has an undetectable viral load.
  • It is not possible to establish proof beyond reasonable doubt that one person has infected another, even with the most advanced phylogenetic scientific tools.

Some 68 countries have laws that criminalise HIV non-disclosure, exposure or transmission, while 33 others have applied similar laws in specific cases.

Convicted for breastfeeding

Thousands of people living with HIV have been prosecuted, most of who did not actually pass on the virus. Most prosecutions have taken place in the USA, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia and Zimbabwe.

Sarai-Chisala Tempelhoff of the Women’s Lawyers Association of Malawi said that an HIV positive woman in her country had been convicted for breastfeeding her baby.

“This prosecution for breastfeeding was not informed by science, and the magistrate demonstrated stigma not science,” said Templehoff.

Edwin Bernard, global co-ordinator of the Global HIV Justice Network, said there was an urgent need to train and educate judges and magistrates, many of whom operated on the basis of prejudice not fact.

Impact of prosecution

South Africa has not adopted an HIV-specific criminal law, although there was a push to do so in 1999.

“I think we can give credit to our Members of Parliament for that,” said Judge Edwin Cameron, who is attending the Aids conference.

“There was a move in 1999 to make HIV transmission a specific crime, but this was ultimately rejected by our politicians, although HIV status can be considered an aggravation of sentence in rape,” said Cameron.

“The scientific community has spoken and now the criminal justice sytem, law and policymakers must also consider the impact of prosecutions on the human rights of people living with HIV,” said Michaela Clayton of AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA). – Health-e News

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‘No to Magaya HIV and AIDS Cure”

SECRETARY for Health and Child Care Gerald Gwinji yesterday said government would find it difficult to license Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries leader Walter Magaya’s alleged new cure for HIV.

BY VENERANDA LANGA/XOLISANI NCUBE

Gwinji said Magaya did not follow due process when he unveiled his Aguma herb, which he claimed could cure the virus which causes Aids.

This came amid reports that the herb was now being sold on the market for up to $1 000.

Gwinji appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care chaired by Emakhandeni-Entumbane MP Dingilizwe Tshuma to speak about the 2019 health budget.

Glen Norah MP Wellington Chikombo (MDC Alliance) asked him to explain if his ministry was happy that an HIV cure had been found, and whether government was threatened by the new territory of herbs that the prophet had now entered into.

“We do not want to quash any new discoveries or innovations, but they have to go through the right processes so that issues of safety are assured,” Gwinji said.

“We will find it difficult to license it, and it will be difficult to authorise it to be sold at pharmacies until these issues are solved, and we are only playing our regulatory role in the pharmaceutical industry.”

However, reports indicate that Magaya has already started advertising his HIV and Aids “cure” despite government’s assertion that the herb had not yetbeen approved by authorities.

‘Nothing for us, without us,’ hammer young people at AIDS Conference

Sitting on center stage, clutching a microphone, Chinmay Modi along with a dozen young people answered questions about HIV during an all-youth panel session at the Amsterdam 2018 AIDS conference.

The 25-year-old born with HIV described his struggle accessing services. “In India, sex is a big taboo. A 16-year-old cannot buy condoms for example and parents need to give consent to be tested for HIV.” He said educating children and parents is key. His greatest desire involves pushing for specific youth-focused services.

Dany Stolbunov from Ukraine echoed that sentiment, saying “Nothing for us, without us.” He said that in his region stigma and discrimination kept people from even accessing services. He bemoaned the fact that young people in Ukraine have limited information and are not seen as a priority. 


HIV FACTS

In 2017, there were approximately 250 000 new HIV infections and 38 000 AIDS-related deaths among adolescents and 1.8 million adolescents living with HIV globally.

Adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa are disproportionately affected by new HIV infections, making up 56% of new HIV infections among adolescents globally.

HIV is a leading cause of death among adolescents (10-19 years).


“We are ready to fight for our rights,” he added, explaining that young people have a voice and want to use it.

Bruna Martinez strongly believes that broad sexual education discussing gender, health issues and pleasure would not only limit stigma, it would also make teenagers fear HIV less.

“HIV should not be in a vacuum,” she said. “We are a generation that can discuss sex and that’s a great thing; so give us the tools that tip things in our favor.”

All agreed that teenagers and young people have the most at stake in ending the HIV epidemic. Their demand is clear: go beyond scholarships by empowering us.

Melodi Tamarzians, the Dutch youth ambassador for sexual and reproductive health and rights, said, “Do not tick the youth box by giving us a token position.” In her view, to enable young people, adults need to invest in them and give them advisory roles.

AIDS 2018 prided itself on giving a greater space to young people in Amsterdam. Youth and junior investigators made up more than one-third of the submissions presented at the conference, according to the conference organizer, the International AIDS Society (IAS.) In addition, young people got the most scholarships than at any other conference. And the Global Village (a free admission space by the conference area) featured the largest space conceived of and run by young people. It included a snack area, a mini-indoor football field, a safe-space theater area and youth-led activities, and booths such as a radio recording area, a youth against AIDS t-shirt stand and even an exhibit about the vagina.

Ms Martinez volunteered and then worked with the Amsterdam Youth Force that mobilized and organized other young people to make the youth space their own. “At this conference, we showed everybody that we could deliver,” she said.

She hopes that this meaningful youth presence will carry over. “It’s important that we are not being catered to but rather that we are recognized,” she said, her AIDS 2018 lanyard laden with pins and stickers. She sees her recent stint with the Youth Force as a way to change things. “There are still so many young people getting infected with HIV and dying. It means we are failing and the system is not working,” Ms Martinez said. In her view, HIV policy has to also come from the ground upwards. She emphasized peer-to-peer education and valuing local knowledge. Standing in front of a huge ‘Let’s face HIV together’ she said, “We speak the language of the young people and we know what we are living, so acknowledge us fully.”

NAC Donates Mammogram Machine to Mpilo Hospital

Trust Govere

THE Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa today commissioned a digital mammogram machine for Mpilo Central Hospital. The machine which was donated by National AIDS Council will be used for early detection of breast cancer. The machine which costs around $500 000 was purchased by NAC using funds from the AIDS Levy. NAC

More to follow…

Malawi: DHO Bemoans Pastors Who Mislead HIV Patients

Blantyre — The Blantyre District Health Office says the conduct of some pastors who proclaim to heal their followers from HIV/AIDS is increasing numbers of people defaulting from antiretroviral therapy (ART).

District health officer (DHO) Dr. Medson Matchaya has described the conduct unfortunate.

Matchaya said this in an interview with the Malawi News Agency (MANA) when he was commenting on some of the challenges the National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan (NSP) is facing in realizing the ambitious 90-90-90 treatment target.

He said the tendency is saddening and unfortunate because defaulting puts the life of the patient at risk since ART works better if it is taken consistently.

“If the client defaults on ART, his life is at risk as the virus builds up resistance to the medication.

Therefore, no matter how consistent in future he or she may be on ART, their body cannot respond to medication; as the result we are forced to change the type of drugs given to them,” he said.

Another challenge, according to Dr. Matchaya, is that the country does not have many types of ART drugs and when one develops resistance to the few drugs on the market, it becomes difficult to assist them medically.

“People should know that viral suppression beyond undetectable level does not mean that the virus has been eliminated but that the therapy is having effect on the body. They should not be fooled that they have been healed after being prayed for,” he said.

National Association for People living with HIV/AIDS in Malawi (Napham) executive director, Master Mphande, said there is need for all stakeholders to join hands if the nation is to achieve the 90:90:90 target by the year 2020.

“As Napham we want all stakeholders to play their part so that the NSP is achieved for the betterment of people living with HIV/aids

The national HIV prevention strategy adopted UNAID’S ambitious 90-90-90 target where the nation wants to diagnose 90 percent of all people living with HIV, start and retain 90 percent of those diagnosed on antiretroviral therapy and finally achieve viral suppression for 90 percent of people on ART.

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