Berna Biotech Teams With IAVI, Gallo Lab, Uganda to Test AIDS Vaccine Designed For Developing Countries
PRNewswire, Rome
February 4, 2002

Novel Vaccine Candidate Can Be Administered Orally;
Expected to be Inexpensive To Manufacture, Easy to Store and Transport

BERNE, Switzerland, and NEW YORK, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Swiss vaccine manufacturer Berna Biotech Ltd. has joined a cross-national team to test a new vaccine to prevent HIV infection and AIDS designed specifically for use in developing countries. Berna will produce doses of the vaccine for human trials starting this year in Uganda and the US. This public-private partnership to speed AIDS vaccine science was announced at the World Economic Forum in New York.

Under the leadership of Dr. Robert Gallo, credited with the co-discovery of HIV, and Dr. George Lewis, the vaccine is in the final stages of laboratory development at the Institute of Human Virology (IHV), a center of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. Development and testing of the vaccine are being pursued with financial and scientific backing from the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI).

Berna is developing new manufacturing processes for the novel vaccine, which consists of synthetic pieces of HIV's genetic material inserted into weakened bacteria.

Berna adds Switzerland to a growing roster of European companies working with IAVI to accelerate progress toward finding an AIDS vaccine. On other vaccine projects, IAVI is partnering with manufacturing firms in the UK and Germany as well in Africa, India and the US. In addition, the governments of the UK, Netherlands, Ireland, Norway and Denmark as well as Canada and the US have pledged direct monetary support to IAVI.

The IAVI-IHV vaccine has been tailored for optimal use in developing countries:

  • The techniques needed to manufacture the vaccine are relatively inexpensive.
  • The formulation is designed to facilitate storage and transportation in developing countries.
  • The vaccine can be administered orally, without the need for injection equipment.

In addition, the vaccine is expected to engage the arm of the human immune system that protects the mucous membranes of the genitalia. This could be critical in preventing heterosexual transmission of HIV, the dominant mode of infection in developing countries.

"A preventive AIDS vaccine is the world's best hope to stop the spread of the deadly epidemic. We have both a moral and public health obligation to develop a vaccine that is safe and effective as well as practical for use where it is needed most," said Dr. Seth Berkley, President and CEO of IAVI.

The United Nations estimates that in sub-Saharan Africa alone, nearly 10,000 people are infected with HIV each day. In southeast Asia, an additional 5,000 new infections occur daily. Yet many of these countries spend no more than US$10 per person annually for all health care expenses.

"From the beginning, this vaccine was designed to keep manufacturing and delivery costs down and to be administered in the easiest way," said Dr. Reinhard Gluck, Head of Research and Development for Berna. "An AIDS vaccine with a high price tag and that is difficult to administer would be of little help in most regions."

"Our shared goal is to develop a less costly AIDS vaccine that will be readily available for prevention efforts worldwide," said Dr. Gallo, whose research center is collaborating in the study of other AIDS vaccine candidates as well. "We are very excited about the progression of this vaccine into human trials and are delighted that our early seminal research helped form the basis for this novel approach."

Like other AIDS vaccines in development, the IAVI-IHV vaccine is intended to immunize individuals uninfected with HIV against the chance of future exposure to the virus. The vaccine does not contain whole HIV but rather only small pieces of it, specifically, synthetic units of the virus's gag gene inserted into weakened bacteria. While these pieces of the virus cannot cause disease, the hope is that they will mimic exposure and stimulate the immune system to build capabilities that could fight off a real HIV infection.

With different strains of HIV circulating worldwide, researchers do not yet know if it is possible to make one AIDS vaccine that works against all variants of the virus, or if multiple vaccines will be needed. For this reason, this vaccine is constructed from subtype A of HIV, a strain of the virus predominant in East Africa. Most other AIDS vaccines are built for subtype B, common in industrialized countries but rare elsewhere. This vaccine, which will be tested in conjunction with the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe under the direction of Dr. Pontiano Kaleebu, will be only the second for HIV-A to enter human testing.

About IAVI
The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI, http://www.iavi.org) is a global nonprofit organization working to speed scientific progress toward finding safe, effective and accessible preventive AIDS vaccines. To date, IAVI has invested more than US$35 million in six cross-national product development teams, each pursuing one or more AIDS vaccine possibilities for Africa or Asia. IAVI also works to guarantee that AIDS vaccines, once found, will be swiftly distributed to all who need them.

IAVI, founded in 1996, has drawn major support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Rockefeller, Sloan and Starr foundations; the World Bank; BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company); and the governments of the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Canada, Ireland, United States, Norway and Denmark. IAVI is a collaborating centre of UNAIDS.

About Berna Biotech Ltd.
Berna Biotech Ltd. (http://www.bernabiotech.com), founded in 1898 as the Swiss Serum and Vaccine Institute Berne, is an independent biotechnology company in the field of immunization. Berna has outstanding expertise and experience in the development and production of bacterial and viral vaccines designed for oral administration and the induction of mucosal immunity. Based in Berne with subsidiaries in Italy, Spain and Switzerland, the company employs more than 700 people and has generated a turnover of around CHF 200 million and a profit before restructuring costs of CHF 4.8 million in the year 2000. Berna Biotech is a public company with a broad shareholder base. Its shares are listed on the SWX Local Caps index.

About the Institute of Human Virology
The Institute of Human Virology (IHV, http://www.ihv.org) was established to create and develop a world-class center of excellence focusing on chronic viral diseases and virally linked cancers. IHV is dedicated to discovery, research, treatment and prevention of these diseases and cancers. The Institute was formed in 1996 as a partnership among the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, the University System of Maryland and the University of Maryland Medical System. It is a center of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and affiliated with University of Maryland Medicine.

About the Uganda Virus Research Institute
The Uganda Virus Research Institute, founded in 1936, is a government institution under the Ministry of Health whose broad mission is to carry out scientific research concerning communicable diseases, especially viral diseases of public health importance, and to advise the government on strategies for control and prevention. A number of international organizations are collaborating with UVRI on HIV research. UVRI serves as a World Health Organization primary laboratory for HIV-1 isolation and characterization.

Copyright 02/04/2002 04:00 EST PREnewswire. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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New Aids Vaccine Trials For Next Year
The Monitor (Kampala)
Sheila C. Kulubya
February 8, 2002

Uganda is to start human trials for a new HIV/AIDS vaccine, which prevents the spread of the virus.

A statement from the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) says trials are expected to start this year in Uganda and the US.

Like other AIDS vaccines in development, the IAVI-IHV vaccine is intended to immunise individuals uninfected with HIV against future exposure to the virus.

The vaccine does not contain whole HIV but rather only small pieces of it, specifically, synthetic units of the virus's gag gene inserted into weakened bacteria. While these pieces of the virus cannot cause disease, the hope is that they will mimic exposure and stimulate the immune system to build capabilities that could fight off a real HIV infection.

In Uganda, testing will be carried out in conjunction with the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe under the direction of Dr. Pontiano Kaleebu.

However, Kaleebu told The Monitor on phone yesterday, that phase one of the trials will not start until next year since the vaccine has not yet been approved in Uganda.

"First it has to be approved, which may take some time. But we hope to start next year," he said.

He said that if approved, trials would start with about 40 people but added that the number would increase depending on the success of the vaccine.

The vaccine is to be manufactured by Swiss based firm, Berna Biotech Ltd. It is currently in the final stages of laboratory development at the Institute of Human Virology (IHV), a centre of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, United States is largely financed by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAV). IAVI is a collaborating centre for the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS.

The new vaccine is designed specifically for use in developing countries and thus expected to significantly reduce the spread of the virus.

This is because the techniques needed to manufacture the vaccine are relatively inexpensive while the formulation is designed to facilitate storage and transportation in developing countries.

Kaleebu says the vaccine can be administered orally, without the need for injection equipment.

The vaccine is designed to engage the part of the human immune system that protects the mucous membranes of the genitalia, a crucial feature for preventing heterosexual HIV transmission, the virus's major mode of transmission in the developing world.

"We don't want to give people so much hope because the vaccine is still in the research stages," said Kaleebu.

The United Nations estimates that in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, nearly 10,000 people are infected with HIV each day. Yet many of these countries spend no more than $10 (Ug Shs 17500) per person annually for all health care expenses.

Copyright 2002The Monitor. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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First Lady Launches New Anti-HIV/Aids Programme
The Monitor (Kampala)
February 10, 2002

Wife of the president, Janet Museveni has said that Africa south of the Sahara contributes only 10% of the world's population and yet it continues to bear the burnt of the AIDS pandemic, with about 70% of the total number of adults living with HIV/AIDS, as well as 80% of infected children under 15.

Mrs Museveni said this Feb. 8 while officiating at the launch of the Diflucan programme and the signing a memorandum of understanding with Pfizer International at the Uganda International Conference Centre.

Diflucan is a drug that was proven to be the most effective treatment for two opportunistic infections commonly associated with the end stages of AIDS, namely Cryptococcal Meningitis and Oesophageal Candidiasis.

Mrs Museveni said that due to multiple factors such as poverty, inadequate information and lack of clinical facilities and trained personnel, the prevention of complications of HIV disease hasn't been comprehensive enough.

She added that although there is evidence of decline in the HIV infection rates in the country, the number of people progressing to the stage of AIDS is still increasing and the cost of the drugs is still prohibitive.

Minister of Health Brig. Jim Muhwezi at the same occasion, said that the drug is going to be given out free of charge in all in hospitals in order to reduce on the number of death of the two fungal diseases.

He said that the drug will be available in Mulago, Mengo, Nsambya, Rubaga and Kibuli hospitals with immediate effect.

He added that within six months the drug will be available in all the hospitals countrywide.

Copyright 2002The Monitor. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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HIV/Aids Patients to Get Free Anti-Fungal Drug
The Monitor (Kampala)
Jennifer Bakyawa
February 18, 2002

HIV/AIDS patients in hospitals and AIDS care clinics are to receive a free anti-fungal drug, Diflucan (fluconazole) for crytococcal meningitis or oesophageal candiasis and cannot afford treatment.

The drug, it is believed, will provide immediate benefit to patients in need and serve as a potential model for other nations in need, a press release from the Ministry of Health said.

The drug will be distributed through a partnership of Pfizer, an international pharmaceutical company and the ministry. The partnership was launched on Friday.

"The programme has been carefully designed to ensure proper diagnosis treatment, and patient compliance. Participating patients will receive Diflucan for as long as they need it," the release states.

According to the release, the initiative will be monitored regularly to ensure that it successfully meets patients' needs and be evaluated by the ministry and Pfizer.

Diflucan is an approved treatment of Cryptococcal meningitis and oesophageal candiasis. It is the only available outpatient treatment for the meningitis.

Cryptococcal meningitis is a life threatening infection of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by the fungus crytococcus neoformans.

Cryptococcal meningitis and oesophageal candiasis are two fungal infections common in patients with HIV/AIDS. It occurs in approximately 10% of AIDS patients and is associated with a mortality of over 20 per cent.

Spores and mould that circulate in the atmosphere cause fungal infections. Although usually harmless, the spores can result in infections ranging from minor irritation to serious illness.

People with impaired immune systems often develop serious infections caused by types of fungi that seldom inflict harm in people whose immune systems are functioning normally.

The infections can cause life-threatening complications for HIV/AIDS patients whose immune systems are depleted.

The meningitis starts gradually, causing fatigue, fever and weight loss. A headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion, drowsiness, photophobia and blurred vision follow this.

Copyright 2002The Monitor. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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INTERVIEW-AIDS ravages generation of African farmers
Reuters Limited,
By David Brough
February 12, 2002

ROME, Feb 21 (Reuters) - AIDS is ravaging an entire generation of farm workers as it sweeps through rural Africa, the president of a United Nations development agency said.

"AIDS is devastating rural life in many parts of Africa. You have a disappearing generation," Lennard Bage, head of the Rome-based U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), told Reuters late on Wednesday.

The United Nations has said that, in Africa's 25 worst affected countries, seven million agricultural workers have died from AIDS since 1985 and 16 million more could die by 2020.

"AIDS is taking a tremendous toll. By now most people with AIDS are living in the rural areas," he added, speaking on the sidelines of his agency's annual meeting.

He said AIDS was depriving the countryside of the labour force to provide food for the hungry, severely hindering the continent's efforts to achieve a U.N. goal to halve hunger and poverty by 2015.

"It means a lack of manpower," he said adding the disease had left more than 12 million AIDS orphans in Africa.

According to the World Bank, the average annual loss in gross domestic product per capita due to HIV/AIDS is around one percentage point in Africa.

"It is a tremendous obstacle," he said. "This has taken back standards of living and average life expectancy. It is straight against the development that we would like to see."

Africa, with about 10 percent of the world's population, accounts for nine out of every 10 new cases of HIV infection.

Some 83 percent of all AIDS-related deaths have occurred in Africa, the United Nations says. Sub-Saharan Africa is hardest hit, with 28.1 million people infected.

At the IFAD meeting, Swaziland's Farm Minister Roy Fanourakis said some hospitals were telling patients they had AIDS-related diseases such as tuberculosis without informing them it was because they had AIDS.

So when they went back home they were treated for their specific illness but carried on risky sexual practices, spreading the AIDS virus further.

But Bage said successful prevention campaigns, such as that seen in Uganda, offered some hope for the future.

Copyright 08:37 02-21-02 Reuters Limited

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Free HIV Drugs for Pregnant Mothers
New Vision, Kampala
Charles Wendo
June 13, 2002

A PROJECT in which HIV positive pregnant mothers receive free doses of drugs that save their babies from the virus, is to become part of routine antenatal services countrywide.

Officials from the Ministry of Health and the United Nations children's fund said they were expanding the Prevention of Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission (PMTCT) project following a successful pilot trial at six sites in four districts.

The medical officer in-charge of PMTCT in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Saul Onyango, said half the districts in Uganda should have at least one antenatal clinic implementing the project by the end of this year, and all districts by the end of 2004.

"The response was good and we felt that given the benefits, we should make it available to people who need it countrywide," he said.

Under the project, all mothers attending antenatal clinics will be counselled about the need to take HIV tests. Those who test HIV positive as well as their babies receive free doses of the drugs that reduce the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission. They also receive counselling and support.

Onyango said so far, over 37,000 pregnant women have taken HIV tests, of whom about 4,500 were positive. "The decision is left to the mother. If she refuses to test, she is not coerced.

Currently the ministry estimates that about 40,000 babies are born with HIV in Uganda every year, and that this could reduce by half if all HIV positive mothers take the HIV drugs around the time of delivery.

Copyright 2002 New Vision. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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Remarks by the President on Global and Domestic HIV/AIDS
January 31, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- The following are remarks by the President on Global and Domestic HIV/AIDS:
Room 450
The Dwight E. Eisenhower Executive Office Building
11:31 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. I'm honored you all are here. I'm so grateful that many from the diplomatic corps are here.

This is an historic year for America. It's a year of great consequence. It's a year in which we have an opportunity to work with others to shape the future of our globe. We have a chance to achieve peace. We have a chance to achieve a more compassionate world for every citizen. America believes deeply that everybody has worth, everybody matters, everybody was created by the Almighty, and we're going to act on that belief and we'll act on that passion.

You know, the world looks at us and says, they're strong. And we are; we're strong militarily. But we've got a greater strength than that. We've got a strength in the universality of human rights and the human condition. It's in our country's history. It's ingrained in our soul. And today we're going to describe how we're going to act -- not just talk, but act, on the basis of our firm beliefs.

I want to thank Tommy, he's the new chairman of the board of the Global Fund. He's also the Secretary of Health and Human Services, doing a great job for our administration. I want to thank so very much the ambassadors from Guyana and Uganda for standing up here with us today. I appreciate the other ambassadors from the continent of Africa and the Caribbean for being here.

With us as well is Bill Frist, a United States Senator, Majority Leader, passionate advocate of good health care for every citizen on the globe; a man with whom this administration will work, along with Russ Feingold, from Wisconsin, to make sure that the proposal becomes real. That means funded. (Laughter and applause.)

There's no doubt in my mind that when you've got the Majority Leader and a distinguished senator like Senator Feingold teaming up together, that this will get done. It's just a matter of time.

I'm honored that Mark Malloch is here -- Mark Malloch Brown is here, who is the U.N. -- administrator of U.N. develop program. I want to thank the U.S. Surgeon General, Carmona is here with us. Rich, thank you for coming. Andrew Natsios is USAID administrator. Dr. Zerhouni of NIH is with us. Tony Fauci is here with us. There are a lot of docs here today. (Laughter.) Julie Gerberding of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thank you, all, for coming today. Les Crawford is the deputy commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

And, of course, a man who is on my staff who is going to make an enormous difference here and abroad as direct advisor to the President, and that's Dr. Joe O'Neill, who's the director of National AIDS Policy. He's about as fine a human being as you'll ever know. He cares deeply and his care has had -- he's got a lot of influence, let me put it to you this way, because of his convictions.

As I mentioned, we're a strong nation. But we're also a blessed nation. And it's important for our citizens to recognize that richness is one thing. Recognizing that we're blessed gives a different perspective, I think. I think it enhances the fact that we have a responsibility. If you're blessed, there is a responsibility to recognize your blessings in a compassionate way. Blessings are a two-way street. We've got to understand in this country that if you value life and say every life is equal, that includes a suffering child on the continent of Africa. If you're worried about freedom, that's just not freedom for your neighbor in America, that's freedom for people around the globe. It's a universal principle.

As I said in my State of the Union, freedom is not America's gift to the world, freedom is God's gift to humanity. Freedom means freedom from a lot of things. And today, on Africa, in the continent of Africa, freedom means freedom from the fear of a deadly pandemic. That's what we think in America. And we're going to act on that belief. The founding belief in human dignity should be how we conduct ourselves around the world -- and will be how we conduct ourselves around the world.

I want you all to remember, and our fellow citizens to remember, that this is nothing new for our country. Human dignity has been a part of our history for a long time. We fed the hungry after World War I. This country carried out the Marshall Plan and the Berlin Airlift.

Today we provide 60 percent -- over 60 percent of all the international food aid. We're acting on our compassion. It's nothing new for our country. But there's a pandemic which we must address now, before it is too late. And that's why I took this message to our fellow citizens, that now is the time for this country to step up our efforts to save lives. After all, on the continent of Africa, 30 million people have the AIDS virus -- 30 million people. Three million children under the age of 15 have the AIDS virus. More than 4 million people require immediate drug treatment. Yet, just about 1 percent of people receive drug treatment. It is a significant world problem that the United States of America can do something about. We can be involved.

Tommy mentioned the images, the horrible images, that take place in Africa. It's important for our fellow citizens as they listen to the dialogue on this initiative to understand that there are mass burials and unmarked graves on the continent of Africa. So many people are dying. But the graves are unmarked. The pandemic is creating such havoc that there are mass burials, that there are wards of children that are dying because of AIDS. Not a ward, not some wards, but wards after wards full of dying children because of AIDS. That there are millions of orphans, lonely children, because their mom or dad has died -- children left, in some cases, to fend for themselves.

Because the AIDS diagnosis is considered a death sentence, many folks don't seek treatment, and that's a reality. It's as if the AIDS pandemic just continues to feed upon itself over and over and over again, because of hopelessness. This country needs to provide some hope -- because this disease can be prevented and it can be treated, that's important for our fellow citizens to know. Anti-retroviral drugs are now dramatically more affordable in many nations, and these drugs are used to extend the lives of those with HIV. In other words, these drugs are really affordable.

And when the treatment has come to Africa, it is also important for our citizens to understand the effect of that treatment. It's called the Lazarus effect. When one patient is rescued by medicine, as if back from the dead, many others with AIDS seek testing and treatment, because it is the first sign of hope they have ever seen.

We have the opportunity to bring that hope to millions. It's an opportunity for this nation to affect millions and millions of lives. So that's why I've laid out the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. I called it in my State of the Union a work of mercy, and that's what I believe it is.

With the approval of Congress, we will devote $15 billion to the fight AIDS abroad over the next five years, beginning with $2 billion in the year 2004. (Applause.) I've been asked whether or not we're committed to the Global AIDS Fund. Well, first of all, I wouldn't put Tommy as the head of it if we weren't. And more importantly, he wouldn't have joined if we weren't.

And so we're still committed to the Global AIDS Fund to fight disease. This program in no way diminishes our commitment to the fund. We will continue bilateral AIDS programs in more than 50 countries. We've already got bilateral relations with 50 countries with whom we're working on AIDS, and we'll continue that program.

But this plan that I've laid out in front of the Congress and will work with members of the Senate and the House on will dramatically focus our efforts. You notice I didn't say, "focus our efforts," I said, "dramatically focus our efforts." And that's important for the American people to understand, because we want to bring a comprehensive system. It's more than money that we bring, we bring expertise and compassion and love and the desire to develop a comprehensive system, work with people in Africa to do so, for diagnosis and treatment and prevention.

We are determined to turn the tide against AIDS. And we're going to start in 14 African and Caribbean countries, where the disease is most heavily concentrated. We whip it in those 15 -- or 14 -- we will show what is possible in other countries.

We're going to be involved with the fund. We'll continue to have bilateral aid. We want to have intense focus where the need is most severe, and show the world what is possible -- not just show our fellow citizens or show the folks on the continent of Africa, but the world needs to see what we can do together. The model has been applied with great success in Uganda. Anybody who knows the issue of AIDS on the African continent appreciates the efforts of Uganda. And we feel like that it can be duplicated. And that's the mission, the goal. Even though we're on 14 countries initially with this major focus, we understand there's suffering elsewhere, and we want to expand beyond. We want to encourage others to join us, as well.

The funding will initially go toward expanding existing hospitals, and of course, drawing on the knowledge and the expertise of local physicians. That makes sense. You've got a doc in place; we want to encourage that doc to be able to continue his or her healing. We'll build satellite facilities that can serve more people. Of course, we'll provide antiretroviral drugs, and as well, work with folks on the ground for education and care.

It's important for our citizens to know that the infrastructure is -- it's hard for many Americans to imagine the lack of infrastructure that we're working with on the continent of Africa. So we use motorcycles, trucks, bicycles. We use nurses and local healers to go to the farthest villages and farms to test for the disease and to deliver medications that will save lives. It doesn't matter how the medications get there; what matters is they do get there.

The facilities across Africa and the Caribbean will have now the medicine. And our fellow citizens must understand that the reason they do is because of your generosity, the taxpayers of the country. I hope when our citizens absorb that knowledge -- the massive attempt to save lives -- that they feel proud of their country, and proud of the compassion of America. We're going to work with other governments, of course, private groups, there's all kinds of faith-based programs involved on the continent of Africa, and we welcome that, of course. And we encourage that. And we thank you for that.

A fellow named Father Edward Phillips is here. Where are you, Father? Right there, yes. I thought you were Father Edward Phillips for a minute. (Laughter.) He is in Kenya, works in Kenya. He's obviously followed his faith. He leads an organization that provides testing and treatment in Nairobi. He's helped thousands of people every year. He ought to be giving this speech, not me, because he knows what it must feel like to play a significant role in saving lives. And that's what we're here to talk about today, how best to save lives.

And here's what the experts believe that will be accomplished, the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. In this decade, we will prevent 7 million new infections. They will treat at least 2 million people with life-extending drugs. We'll provide humane care, of course, for those who suffer and, as importantly, for the orphans.

To me, that's just the beginning. But it's a pretty good start. Most important thing is we're providing hope, which is immeasurable. How can you possibly measure the benefits of hope? There's no -- we can't quantify that. But it certainly can be qualified by saying a hopeful society is a heck of a lot better society than what they found on the continent today.

This project is urgent, and as we move forward on this program we will continue to call upon other nations to join. The United States doesn't mind leading and we believe others have a responsibility as well, that we're not the only blessed nation. There are many blessed nations. And we hope they join us. And as well, we've got a lot of work to do here in America. It's important for our fellow citizens never to think that one initiative, or a major initiative, in Africa doesn't mean we're going to forget the 900,000 people living in America today who carry the HIV virus. Of course we'll never do that. It's important for our citizens to understand that there's 40,000 new infections every year in this country. It's an issue. It's an issue we must continue to deal with.

The AIDS diagnosis still obviously brings tremendous grief and worries in parts of our society. And so the budget I've submitted and worked with Congress on -- it will be a request for $16 billion for domestic HIV prevention and care and treatment, a 7 percent increase over '03. (Applause.) It's a $93 million increase for AIDS research, $100 million more to support the AIDS drug assistance program. (Applause.) This is a program which provides funding to purchase AIDS related medicines for those without health coverage. And we're going to help those abroad and we'll help those at home, as well.

We must also move quickly to increase the number of people who are tested for HIV. How can you treat if you don't test? How can you help if you don't know? And so the Food and Drug Administration recently has approved a new HIV test, which can provide results in less than 30 minutes, with a 99.6 percent accuracy. (Applause.)

So today I've got an announcement to make, and it's this, that the Department of Health and Human Services, after a lot of careful review, has waived regulations so that the test will soon be more readily available to doctors and public health facilities throughout the country. (Applause.)

As I've said, it's going to be a significant year for our country. I'm a person who believes that there's no obstacle put in our path that we can't overcome, I truly believe that. I love what our country stands for. I love the strength of America. The strength of America really is the -- lies in the hearts and souls of our fellow citizens.

As we move forward into the 21st century, there's no doubt we can help the people on the African continent, while we help our own folks at home with the deadly disease. There's no doubt we can arrest the pandemic. There's no doubt we can bring hope in all parts of the world, not only in Africa, but in neighborhoods in our own country where people wonder what the American Dream means. There's no doubt in my mind we can make the world more peaceful.

Today's initiative is one -- it's a step toward showing the world the great compassion of a great country. Thanks for coming, and God bless. End 11:52 A.M. EST (SOURCE White House Press Office)

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HIV/Aids Impact On Agriculture Worries Kisamba
New Vision, Kampala
March 4, 2003

Despite Uganda's efforts to reduce HIV/AIDS prevalence in the last 10 years, and the introduction of anti-retroviral drugs on the market, it still remains a threat to the agricultural sector, agriculture minister Kisamba Mugerwa said yesterday, reports Richard Komakech.

He called for a revised approach to the HIV/AIDS epidemic to help avert its disproportionate impact on agriculture.

Kisamba said the disease was greatly affecting a sector regarded as Uganda's economic backbone.

He was speaking yesterday at a forum to debate results of Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries HIV/AIDS impact assessment study on food and rural livelihood at Hotel Africana in Kampala

"HIV is no longer only a health crisis as was perceived at its advent, but a cross-sectoral issue that affects the interdependence of production systems and erodes their capacity and ability to function adequately," he said.

The Norwegian government funded the study by the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) and Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

Kisamba said the close linkage of the disease to poverty, poor nutrition and household food and livelihood insecurity is directly undermining government's efforts in realising economic empowerment among the rural people.

"While poverty has long existed in Uganda, it is clear that diseases, including HIV/AIDS, have aggravated this poverty by contributing to decreased agricultural productivity and increased household food insecurity," he added.

The Ministry of Health HIV/AIDS surveillance report 2001, says the prevalence rate has dropped from 25 percent to 6.1 since the disease was first reported in the eighties.

Kisamba said the adverse effect of the disease was a result of the subsistance and small- holder farming methods that relied on family labour. He said increased morbidity threatened productivity

Copyright 2003 New Vision. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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Sex And HIV: Behaviour-Change Trial Shows No Link
The East Africa, Nairobi
Paul Redfern, Special Correspondent
March 17, 2003

A UK funded trial aimed at reducing the spread of Aids in Uganda by modifying sexual behaviour appears to have had little discernible effect.

The trial, carried out on around 15,000 people in the Masaka region, involved distributing condoms, treating around 12,000 victims of sexually transmitted diseases and counselling.

However, while the trial led to a marked change in sexual behavioural patterns, with the proportion reporting causal sexual partners falling from around 35 per cent to 15 per cent, there was no noticeable fall in the number of new cases of HIV infection, although there was a significant reduction in sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhoea.

The trial results, which were reported in the British medical journal The Lancet, have already aroused some controversy.

The team leader of the trial, Dr Anatoli Kamalai, acknowledged that there was "no measurable reduction" in HIV incidence with "no hint of even a small effect."

But the research team's view is that the spread of HIV was already declining in the area and the trial might not have been big enough to detect any additional change.

There is, however, another view which has recently been put forward which claims that inadequately sterilised needles across Africa have led to a greater rate of HIV infection than sexual contact.

It is a view put forward by a mainly American group of scientists, including Dr David Gisselquist, who told the Times of London that "Results from the Masaka study add to the already long list of findings from other studies that don't fit the hypothesis that most HIV in African adults is from sexual transmission.

"These results from Masaka are similar to results published earlier from a similar study in Rakai, Uganda, where interventions that reduced STD prevalence had no impact on HIV incidence." However, such a view is by no means mainstream in the latest thinking on the spread of HIV in Africa.

Most scientific research still believes that HIV is mainly spread by sexual transmission and that people suffering from STDs are particularly prone.

The trial was the first systematic attempt on a large scale to assess whether modifying sexual behaviour and better management of other sexual diseases could cut the transmission of HIV in Africa.

In a commentary in The Lancet, Judith Stephenson and Frances Cowan of the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London acknowledged that "many people will be disappointed by the lack of reduction in HIV incidence, despite an apparently appropriate intervention that reduced other STDs and was implemented on a huge scale with great care and commitment."

The two researchers suggest that it might have been "the right trial and the wrong time" - when HIV incidence was falling and when there were already substantial reductions in risk behaviour.

Copyright 2003 The East African, Nairobi. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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HIV Rates Still High in Youth
New Vision, Kampala
Raymond Baguma
April 4, 2003

While statistics indicate a decline in AIDS prevalence, the youths are increasingly contracting the HIV virus, the Buganda minister for health, Nelson Kawalya, has said.

Kawalya was briefing the Nnabagereka and Baganda cultural leaders from Kalangala and Kampala during an Adolescent Reproductive Health workshop at Rubaga Catholic Social Centre on Wednesday.

The workshop sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund and Africa Youth Alliance aimed at developing a framework for adolescent reproductive health in Buganda kingdom.

"Although we are told that HIV rates are declining, our young people are contracting AIDS alarmingly which should not be accepted," Kawalya said.

He said widow inheritance was a leading cause of HIV/AIDS. Ends

Copyright 2003 New Vision. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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'Aids Patients Take Up 80% Hospital Beds'
The Monitor (Kampala)
Dorothy Nakaweesi
June 8, 2003

People living with HIV/aids take about 80 percent of Ugandan hospital beds. This was revealed by Major Rubaramira Ruranga of Uganda Joint Clinical Research Centre (UJCRC) during an aids awareness conference to staff of Standard Chartered Bank at Grand Imperial Hotel recently.

" 80 per cent of the hospital beds are occupied by people living with HIV/aids in Uganda. This shows that the disease is still an epidemic," said Mr Rubaramira.

He criticised intellectuals who do not want to talk about HIV/Aids thinking it is a disease of the poor yet it even kills government ministers.

Mr Rubaramira has been living with HIV for about 20 years.

He said that currently 2.7 million children are orphaned by aids in Uganda and 40 million people are infected with the virus worldwide.

He urged people with HIV to be firm and fight the virus.

"Accept that you have it and learn to live with it because you are still important to the nation. It does not stop you from having fun (sex) but you have to protect yourself," he said.

Copyright 2003 Monitor. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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Experts Now Doubt WHO Aids Figures
The Monitor (Kampala)
Badru D. Mulumba
August 7, 2003

A clinic is likely to give you the virus that causes Aids more than you have been led to believe.

Three medical experts, one of them employed by the World Health Organisation, have said that the spread of HIV through injections and blood transfusion at health centres is causing as much as 37.5 percent of the Aids cases, much more than official WHO figures show.

A Ugandan medical consultant in Washington, D.C., Dr John Ssemakula; WHO Blood Safety Officer Yvan Hutin and Dr E. Anne Peterson, the assistant administrator for the Bureau of Global Health at the US Agency for International Development, reported their concern before a Senate hearing on July 31.

The Washington File, a publication of the US Department of State, reported that Hutin said that the trio's estimate that HIV transmission through health centres practices is 3 to 15 times higher than the WHO figure of 2.5 percent was based on findings of "relatively reliable" HIV studies.

The good news, however, is that transmission of the disease through healthcare institutions in Africa, the experts said, is "completely preventable".

"The issue [of basic healthcare] is a real problem, especially in country clinics where equipment is hard to come by," Ssemakula told the Senate.

The experts were making a case for provision of single use syringes in each health facility in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr Bernard Etukoit, the manager of The Aids Support Organisation (Entebbe), yesterday said that at Taso the policy is not to re-use needles and syringes.

"They are actually not supposed to be re-used but because of the economic realities sometimes, some health centres sterilise syringes and re-use them," he said.

Etukoit said that the cost of syringes and needles differs from area to area, with the minimum cost at about Shs 300.

Hutin reportedly said that re-use of medical needles, sometimes including sharing with family members, is a major problem in Africa because poverty means that patients are not able to buy new needles.

In Uganda, 35 percent, or 8.4 million Ugandans, live below the poverty line.

Copyright 2003 Monitor. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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