HIV Spreading in Southern Sudanese Capital Juba; Advocates Working To Increase HIV/AIDS Awareness
HIV/AIDS is "gaining a foothold" in Juba, the capital of southern Sudan, as trading with East Africa increases and large numbers of Sudanese refugees return from camps in Kenya and Uganda, VOA News reports. There is a "strong movement" to educate the city's residents about the disease, and there are signs that education efforts are "paying off," VOA News reports. Cartoons in southern Sudanese newspapers illustrate HIV/AIDS messages, student HIV/AIDS prevention associations are prominent, and condoms are available at hospitals and clinics and are widely distributed to soldiers. Churches in southern Sudan also are involved in spreading HIV/AIDS prevention messages, VOA News reports. Manase Zibedayo, director of health education and HIV/AIDS control in Sudan's Equatoria state, helped institute a voluntary counseling and testing center in Juba. According to Zibedayo, 93 of the 399 men who received HIV tests at the center tested positive, and 85 of the 380 women who received tests were HIV-positive. Zibedayo said that although northern Sudan also records high numbers of HIV/AIDS cases, stigma is less severe in the southern part of the country. "Stigmatizing is not so serious here, because ... we are open to people living with AIDS after counseling," Zibedayo said. He added, "Counseling is one of the best methods. We are informing people about HIV/AIDS. ... If a person is told 'you are carrying the virus' he'll come out because there is already an association for people living with AIDS." Nelson King, an HIV/AIDS youth officer for the Sudan Council of Churches, said that priests discuss HIV/AIDS in church sermons and that children older than age 10 are taught about safer sex practices. The church also advocates condom use, he said (King, VOA News, 1/9). HIV prevalence in southern Sudan is estimated to be 2.3%, according to a report by the U.N. Population Fund. A series of studies by the World Health Organization, conducted after a peace agreement was reached in January 2005, suggested that authorities in southern Sudan face many obstacles in HIV prevention and education (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/28/06).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.