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  • RSS BBC News – Africa

    • South Sudan treason charges dropped April 24, 2014
      South Sudan withdraws charges against four top politicians accused of the alleged coup plot that triggered the civil war.
    • Nigeria rapist to be stoned to death April 24, 2014
      An Islamic court in northern Nigeria sentences a man of 63 to death by stoning for raping a girl of 10 and infecting her with HIV.
    • Lupita Nyong'o named most beautiful April 24, 2014
      Kenyan Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o, 31, is named the world's most beautiful person for 2014 by the US People magazine.
    • Deadly car bomb strikes Nairobi April 23, 2014
      Four people, two of them police, are killed in the Kenyan capital Nairobi by a car bomb outside a police station.
    • DR Congo train in deadly derailment April 23, 2014
      At least 63 people have been killed after a freight train overloaded with passengers derailed in Katanga in south-eastern DR Congo, officials say.
    • Bomb 'kills senior Egypt policeman' April 23, 2014
      A senior Egyptian police officer has been killed by a bomb blast in the capital, Cairo, officials say.
    • SA row over 'banned' Malema advert April 23, 2014
      South Africa's public broadcaster says it refused to broadcast an advert from the controversial politician Julius Malema, saying it incited violence.
    • Mali group says French hostage dead April 22, 2014
      Islamist militants in Mali say French hostage Gilberto Rodrigues Leal, who was kidnapped in 2012, is dead.
    • Three children found dead in London April 23, 2014
      A woman, originally from South Africa, is arrested after three children are found dead at a house in south London.
    • Moroccan Jew asks to join Islamists April 23, 2014
      A Jewish lawyer in Morocco challenges the political establishment by asking to join the ruling Islamist PJD party, it is reported.
    • Pistorius 'had no acting coaching' April 22, 2014
      Oscar Pistorius' family denies claims the athlete took acting lessons ahead of his testimony in the murder trial of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
    • Al-Jazeera trial sees video evidence April 22, 2014
      A court in Egypt is shown video and audio evidence in the trial of three al-Jazeera journalists accused of terrorism-related offences.
    • VIDEO: Film features plight of African park April 24, 2014
      The lethal realities of life in Virunga National Park are the subject of a British documentary which has just had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
    • VIDEO: Sudan hopes for bird-watching boost April 24, 2014
      Environmental campaigners in Sudan are promoting the country as a tourist destination for bird watchers in a bid to boost revenue, which could then be used to protect nesting sites and rare birds from extinction.
    • VIDEO: What is 'beauty' in Africa? April 24, 2014
      As Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o is named the world's most beautiful person a new documentary explores the beauty debate from an African perspective.
    • VIDEO: Ethiopia's Jewish community divided April 24, 2014
      Thousands of Ethiopian Jews have been left disappointed by an Israeli government decision to end a 30-year-old programme that saw tens thousands of Ethiopian Jews airlifted to the Holy Land.
    • VIDEO: Deadly car bomb strikes Nairobi April 24, 2014
      A car bomb has exploded outside a police station in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, killing four people.
    • VIDEO: Horror of S Sudan massacre filmed April 23, 2014
      The White House has strongly condemned the massacre of civilians in South Sudan calling it a betrayal of the people by their leaders.
    • VIDEO: Grim journey through 'new Rwanda' April 22, 2014
      The United Nations says the on-going conflict in South Sudan has a disturbing echo of events in Rwanda 20 years ago.
    • VIDEO: Footage shows Nigeria kidnap school April 22, 2014
      More than 180 Nigerian schoolgirls remain missing after being snatched from their classroom last week.
  • RSS BBC News – Home

    • Netanyahu: Abbas must end Hamas pact April 24, 2014
      Israeli Prime M Netanyahu tells the BBC Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas must abandon his pact with Hamas if he wants peace talks to resume.
    • Mother charged with triple murder April 24, 2014
      Mother charged with three counts of murder after three children found dead at house in south-west London
    • New Russia drills after Ukraine raid April 24, 2014
      Russia announces new military exercises on its border with Ukraine, after Kiev orders troops to move against separatists in the east.
    • FBI probe teacher 'abused boys in UK' April 24, 2014
      A convicted paedophile abused children at a private school in London where he taught, its chair of governors confirms.
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      Barclays shareholders vote to approve the bank's remuneration package, which includes higher bonuses despite a 30% fall in profits.
    • Firefighters to stage fresh strikes April 24, 2014
      Firefighters in England and Wales are to stage strikes on 2, 3 and 4 May over a long-running pensions row, the Fire Brigades Union says.
    • Post Office staff agree pay deal April 24, 2014
      The postal union, the CWU, says it's secured a pay deal covering more than 3,000 staff at Crown Post Offices worth up to 7.3% over 3 years.
    • Police make Syria plea to UK women April 24, 2014
      British counter-terrorism police chiefs make an unprecedented appeal to Muslim women to persuade their relatives against travelling to Syria to fight in the civil war.
    • Crime falls 15% in England and Wales April 24, 2014
      Overall crime in England and Wales falls by 15% in 2013, an official survey shows - but there are signs, according to police figures, of rises in certain categories.
    • Ecclestone denies bribery in Germany April 24, 2014
      Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone denies charges of bribery at the start of his trial in Munich and says he will fight to clear his name.
    • Cyber gang leader jailed for scam April 24, 2014
      The leader of a gang which stole £1.25m from two of Britain's major banks in a "sophisticated and organised" cyber attack, is jailed for five-and-a-half years.
    • BBC suspends its CBI membership April 24, 2014
      The BBC announces it is to suspend its membership of the employers' organisation the CBI during the Scottish independence referendum campaign.
    • Treats in moderation make kids happy April 24, 2014
      Seven-year-olds are happier when they are allowed sweets, snacks and television in moderation, suggests a study of children's well-being.
    • Warhol works found on Amiga disks April 24, 2014
      A dozen previously unknown works created by Andy Warhol have been recovered from 30-year-old Amiga disks.
    • Martinez tips Moyes for rapid return April 24, 2014
      Everton boss Roberto Martinez backs predecessor David Moyes to make a quick return to management.
    • Rangers' finances fragile - Easdale April 24, 2014
      Rangers are in a "fragile" financial state and would not survive a second administration, a club shareholder tells BBC Scotland.
    • Woods hopeful of summer return April 24, 2014
      Tiger Woods hopes to return to competition this summer but is more concerned with his long-term fitness, his agent says.
    • Home nations in Euro 2020 scrap - SFA April 24, 2014
      Scotland will need to outdo their closest neighbours if Glasgow is to be a Euro 2020 host city, says SFA chief Stewart Regan.
    • Thursday's gossip column April 24, 2014
      Olic rejects Stoke, Man Utd want Shaw and Cavani, Moyes in shock Spurs link, Barcelona revive Luiz interest, and Wenger to sign new deal.
    • Labour to cut ties with Co-op Bank April 24, 2014
      The Labour Party is looking to sever its links with the troubled Co-op Bank, bringing to an end one of the oldest political partnerships in the UK.
  • RSS Reuters: Politics

    • Caroline Kennedy backs Hillary Clinton for 2016 April 24, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Caroline Kennedy, the current U.S. ambassador to Japan, says she would support Hillary Clinton if the former secretary of state seeks the presidency in 2016, and she hopes Clinton decides to run.
    • U.S. trade bank chief warns lawmaker 'political games' threaten exports April 24, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers will only hurt American exports and jobs by playing "political games" that threaten to shut down the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the bank's president said on Thursday.
    • Obama reaffirms commitment to Japan on tour of Asia allies April 24, 2014
      TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama assured ally Japan on Thursday that Washington was committed to its defense, including of tiny isles at the heart of a row with China, but denied he had drawn any new "red line" and urged peaceful dialogue over the islands.
    • Mississippi sets 20-week limit on abortions April 24, 2014
      (Reuters) - Mississippi will ban abortions after more than 20 weeks of pregnancy from July, joining other conservative U.S. states that have placed restrictions on the procedure.
    • Pentagon dossier to detail secretive U.S. Afghan detainee policy April 24, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some of them have been locked up for a dozen years. Some are suspected fighters from Yemen, Russia or Pakistan, arrested by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Several have been linked to al Qaeda.
    • Obama seeks to ease Asian allies' doubts during visit to Japan April 23, 2014
      TOKYO (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will use a state visit to Japan on Thursday to try to reassure Tokyo and other Asian allies of his commitment to ramping up U.S. engagement in the region, despite Chinese complaints that Washington's real aim is to contain Beijing's rise.
    • Pentagon dossier to detail secretive U.S. Afghan detainee policy April 23, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some of them have been locked up for a dozen years. Some are suspected fighters from Yemen, Russia or Pakistan, arrested by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Several have been linked to al Qaeda.
    • Exclusive: White House considers former banking lawyer for Fed board - sources April 23, 2014
      NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former lawyer with the American Bankers Association is being considered by the White House as a possible nominee to the board of the Federal Reserve, according to sources familiar with the efforts
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      NEW YORK (Reuters) - The board of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey on Wednesday delayed a scheduled vote on whether to provide $1.2 billion in loan guarantees to World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein, the latest holdup for the project.
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      (Reuters) - The U.S. Democratic Governors' Association on Wednesday sued the state of Connecticut, saying its laws on political spending are unconstitutionally broad and limit the ability of political groups to buy independent ads backing candidates.
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      ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday his first trip to Latin America as Pentagon chief would add "muscle and sinew" to growing North American defense ties and highlight the importance of helping partner nations improve their militaries.
    • Georgia governor signs gun carry rights expansion into law April 23, 2014
      ATLANTA (Reuters) - Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a broad expansion of gun carry rights into law on Wednesday, allowing legal gun owners to take weapons into bars, churches and government buildings under certain conditions.
    • California lawmakers, bruised by scandal, turn to ethics training April 23, 2014
      SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - California lawmakers, their reputation tarnished by fraud and corruption scandals, on Wednesday took a break from normal business to attend ethics training, the latest step by the state Senate to repair its image as elections loom.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department laid out new clemency guidelines on Wednesday that are expected to make thousands of drug offenders eligible for a reduction in the sentences they are currently serving.
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      TOKYO (Reuters) - The United States put last-minute pressure on Japan to compromise in tough trade talks on Wednesday, shortly before President Barack Obama was to arrive for a state visit.
    • California GOP hopeful wants free college for science, math students April 23, 2014
      BERKELEY, California (Reuters) - California Republican gubernatorial hopeful Neel Kashkari called for free college tuition for students pursuing math and science degrees, part of an education reform plan released Tuesday that would also model public schools after charter schools.
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      LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A U.S. congressman from a Los Angeles community is seeking to lure the factory that makes the bestselling Sriracha-brand hot pepper sauce to his district after residents in its current location complained about the smell.
    • New Jersey governor's press aide subpoenaed in 'Bridgegate' probe April 23, 2014
      (Reuters) - A New Jersey legislative panel investigating the "Bridgegate" traffic scandal subpoenaed the press spokesman to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and three other officials on Tuesday.
    • Asia tensions simmer as Obama set to arrive in Tokyo April 22, 2014
      TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in a tense Asian region on Wednesday, faced with the delicate task of assuring Japan and other regional allies of America's commitment to their defense without hurting Washington's vital ties with a rising China.
    • U.S. top court upholds Michigan ban on college affirmative action April 22, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday further undermined the use of racial preferences in higher education by upholding a voter-approved Michigan law that banned the practice in decisions on which students to admit to state universities.
  • RSS – Africa

    • Luxury shoes made in Ghana April 15, 2014
      Fred Deegbe was standing outside a shop window five years ago, marveling at the shiny pair of wing-tip Oxfords he'd just bought, when he started wondering whether such beautiful designer shoes could ever be produced in his country, Ghana.
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      "It was like taking a big leap of faith."
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      African Voices meets James Ebo Whyte a passionate storyteller with a series of successful plays to his credit.
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      When gunmen stormed into Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders on the scene. As head of Kenya's Red Cross, he was in charge of coordinating services for people in need.
    • Embracing Ghana's natural beauty April 1, 2014
      She started her business with just £100, lugging her beauty bag from door to door, but some 25 years later Grace Amey-Obeng has built a multi-million dollar cosmetics empire that's helping change the perception of beauty for many.
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      Africa is home to much unique wildlife, but many of its iconic species are threatened. Find out more about its most endangered animals.
    • Secrets of 'gorilla whisperer' March 25, 2014
      Zain Verjee visits Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park -- the home of half of the world's endangered mountain gorilla population.
    • Savannah from the sky March 13, 2014
      It's almost impossible for a photographer to find fresh visual perspectives these days. Brooklyn-based Zack Seckler had to travel to a different continent and strap into an ultra-light aircraft to find one. His Botswana series presents the country from between 50 and 500 feet, providing a unique and captivating view of the savannah.
    • Why the abduction isn't shocking April 22, 2014
      No one knows where 77 abducted girls in Nigeria are -- and surprising still, no one's particularly shocked.
    • Slum dweller means business April 22, 2014
      Most success-hungry entrepreneurs would tell you there's not enough hours in the day -- try saying that to Buken Makokha.
    • Human viruses killing last gorillas? April 22, 2014
      They are the world's largest primates and yet the constant threat of illegal poaching, deforestation and now human diseases mean that soon the world's mountain gorillas could be completely wiped out. Meet the woman trying to fix the situation before it's too late.
    • Is this the new Oprah? April 18, 2014
      Meet Mo Abudu: 'Africa's Oprah Winfrey.' The glamorous 49-year-old is conquering the continent one media empire at a time.
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      The new Web series "An African City" is fun, trendy and over the top.
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      Boko Haram's lethality is indisputable.
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      After five days of intense cross-examination, has Olympian Oscar Pistorius helped or harmed his defense that he did not intentionally kill his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkam?
    • Pop art condoms saving lives April 15, 2014
      The Center for African Family Studies in Nairobi has teamed up with Kenyan artist Michael Soi to create eye-catching condom wrappers to promote safe sex and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among young people.
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Archive for February 17th, 2012

About 6 percent of Kenyan couples are HIV-discordant

Posted by African Press International on February 17, 2012

KENYA: Discordance strains commitment

Photo: IRIN
About 6 percent of Kenyan couples are HIV-discordant

NAIROBI,  – When they first got married six years ago, Mary and William Simiyu were a typical newly-wed couple – full of love and hope about their future together. Three years into their marriage Mary fell sick and they reluctantly agreed to get tested for HIV. Her result was HIV positive but her husband’s wasn’t. Suddenly, they had become discordant.

“There and then I decided I wasn’t going to stay with her because I wouldn’t risk my life staying with somebody who is HIV positive while I was not. I wanted her to go so that I could look for another woman. The counsellor told us we could just stay together normally, but that wasn’t going to change my mind,” William told IRIN/PlusNews.

Mary said her husband couldn’t share anything with her, including their bed, and when he disclosed her positive status to his mother, pressure mounted on him to send her away.

“He didn’t want to see me and he insisted that all along I knew my HIV status and I wanted to infect him,” she said.

After being counselled by community health workers and the church pastor, the couple agreed to stay together, but both said that at times it is difficult.

“At one time we love each other, but… when it dawns on me that she is positive, I feel like marrying another woman so that I can have a normal marriage, one where I won’t have to use a condom like a youth. I sit back look at our two children and I decide we are in this together… better the devil you know than an angel you do not know,” William said.

His desire to have more children also adds to the tension. “At times I tell myself that two children are not enough and I want more. I don’t want more with her because I fear sex without a condom. This at times pushes me to try and look for another woman,” he admitted.

Experts say the desire to have children could be fuelling the spread of HIV in marriages. “Many people still view children as the epitome of a successful and fulfilling marriage,” noted Lucy Waweru, a psychology lecturer at the University of Nairobi.

''At one time we love each other but … when it dawns on me that she is positive, I feel like marrying another woman so that I can have a normal marriage''

“This phenomenon, while not bad in itself, is pushing many couples, even those that are discordant, to engage in sex without condoms, and it means that the negative partner might sero-convert at some point.”

An estimated 6 percent of Kenyan couples – about 344,000 – are HIV discordant, while a further 22 percent of couples know the HIV status of their sexual partners. Although Kenya has national guidelines for promoting prevention among people living with HIV, implementing them has proved to be a challenge.

Dr Charles Okal, the AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Coordinator for Nyanza Province says providing services for discordant couples is made difficult by the fact that testing is the only way to find them, yet couples rarely turn out for testing together.

According to the Kenya AIDS Strategic Plan 2009/13, the higher level of HIV testing amongst women (43 percent) compared to men (25 percent) is mainly due to antenatal testing and the uptake of prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes.

“We are constantly passing the message forward that couples should be tested together so that those that are discordant can be singled out and ways to stop the infection of the negative partner are put in place,” Okal told IRIN/PlusNews.

“Otherwise, marriages continue to be at high risk because people do not know the status of their partners, and at the same time it is in these unions where condom use is lowest.”

The Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey 2007 notes that 45 percent of all new HIV infections occur in marriages, but the fear of disclosure remains a major problem. “Even those partners who already know their status would rather keep quiet about it because they don’t know how the other partner will react on knowing their sero-positive status,” Okal said.

”If it is a woman, there could be violence or her being sent away by the husband,” he noted. “That could be the moment love ceases to exist for many couples.”


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Deaths due to lack of healthcare worrying

Posted by African Press International on February 17, 2012

MYANMAR-THAILAND: Dying for lack of reproductive healthcare

Disadvantaged at birth

BANGKOK,  – Lack of access to reproductive health services in Myanmar has led to high rates of maternal deaths and unplanned pregnancies among the country’s displaced, migrant and refugee populations, say health experts.

“There are huge unmet reproductive health needs for contraceptives, family planning, and access to skilled birth attendants,” said Priya Marwah, the UN Population Fund’s (UNFPA) humanitarian response coordinator for the Asia Pacific region.

Populations that are on the run or outside their home countries are often unable to gain access to reproductive healthcare, say health workers.

Without skilled birth attendants or contraception, complications from unsafe abortions and post-partum haemorrhage are common along the Thai-Burmese border, where there are more than 150,000 Burmese refugees, according to a new report by the international NGO, Ibis Reproductive Health.

“In Burma, the sad state of reproductive health… [bars] far too many, especially mobile populations, including migrants, refugees, and IDPs, from accessing appropriate, timely, and basic health services,” Vit Suwanvanichkij, a research associate at the US-based Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told IRIN.

Nationwide, only 37 percent of women gave birth with a trained birth attendant in 2007, according to the most recent government data reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Health displaced

Displaced people in Myanmar’s east face “a health disaster”, with a maternal mortality rate (MMR) of 721 deaths per 100,000 live births – three times the national average of 240, according to a 2010 NGO-collaborative report, Diagnosis Critical.

Some 10 percent of Myanmar’s national MMR has been traced to unsafe abortions.

“A lack of safe, legal abortion creates conditions where women in both eastern Burma and Thailand are likely to either self-abort or engage untrained providers who may use methods likely to cause harm or even death,” said Cari Siestra, co-author of Ibis Reproductive Health’s recent report.

The lack of health infrastructure in eastern Myanmar has led to frequent reproductive complications from preventable illnesses, such as malaria, which is “the number-one killer of pregnant women”, said Suwanvanichkij.

“Malnutrition, malaria, and repeat pregnancies without adequate birth spacing all impact [on] women’s ability to carry pregnancies, even wanted ones, to term,” added Sietstra.

Overall health challenges include a shortage of workers, investment and proper infrastructure, San San Myint, a national technical officer and reproductive health specialist at the WHO country office in Myanmar, told IRIN.

“Reproductive health coverage is [available in fewer than] 150 townships out of 325 townships. The main problem is funding and geographical barriers.”


Reproductive health improves for refugees on the Thai side of the border, who have better access to trained providers, according to Sietstra.

But Thailand’s estimated two million Burmese migrant workers, are often reluctant to seek medical assistance.

“Undocumented Burmese migrants are hesitant to access services because of their immigration status,” said Jaime Calderon, the Southeast Asia regional health migration adviser at the International Organization for Migration office in Bangkok.

This is compounded by providers’ discriminatory policies, language constraints and inability to pay, say health workers along the border.

“Put this awful constellation of vulnerabilities together and the result is that far too many women again are sickened, disabled, or die from preventable causes, such as complications of pregnancy and abortions,” said Suwanvanichkij.

While Myanmar’s recent political reforms have the potential to translate into better care if there is long-term investment in the health system, “we still need to address the immediate needs of people urgently”, said Taweesap Sirapapasiri, UNFPA’s programme officer for Thailand.


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Sex workers in Bangladesh

Posted by African Press International on February 17, 2012

ASIA: Breaking down legal barriers to HIV information access

Sex workers in Bangladesh

BANGKOK,  – While a number of Asian and Pacific countries are addressing legal barriers to accessing HIV information and treatment, there is still a gap between policy and implementation, say officials.

“No matter how good our laws are, the effectiveness of them is in the will of those implementing them,” said Fiji’s President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau at a recent UN-convened meeting in Bangkok on addressing legal barriers to HIV care and prevention.

Almost all countries in the region still have at least one “punitive law” – a policy or practice that impedes access to HIV services – according to a recent report from UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Laws that criminalize same-sex relations and sex work or restrict travel for HIV-positive people make it difficult to provide information and care for people most at risk of HIV infection, officials say.

Progress to scrap such laws has been mixed in the region – even within one country.

Fiji, for example, eliminated laws restricting travel of people infected with HIV in 2011 and became the first country in the Pacific region to decriminalize sex between men in 2010.

But at the same time, in February 2010, prostitution was criminalized, giving police the right to arrest and charge people who operate as sex workers.

The government is now reviewing HIV legislation and punitive laws.

Elsewhere in the region, the national AIDS programme manager of Myanmar’s Health Ministry, Khin Ohnmar San, told IRIN Burmese police forces had been informed of a 2007 order that “condoms must not be used as material witness to arrest sex workers”.

But that has done little to assuage sex workers’ fears in Myanmar, said Kay Thi Win, programme manager with a Yangon-based NGO that informs sex workers about HIV prevention and their legal rights.

Many sex workers “are still afraid to carry condoms because of the police”, she added.

Andrew Hunter, president of the Bangkok-based Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) said regionally, women are still arrested on the suspicion of working in the sex industry, which is outlawed, if they are carrying condoms.

“Everyone pleads guilty because experience shows that fighting cases in court leads to longer jail sentences.”

APNSW provides support to sex workers in 22 countries in the region.

Hunter added: “There is a scale of what sex worker advocates can do across the Asia Pacific, from Myanmar, where advocacy must be done quietly and behind the scenes, to India where sex workers are able to take to the streets to protest.”

In India, which accounts for almost half of those infected with HIV in the region, there are efforts to update police officers about HIV prevention and all policies regarding treatment, said Tejdeep Kaur Menon, a director-general of police forces in the city of Hyderabad in the country’s southeast.

Home to 60 percent of the world’s population, the regional death toll from AIDS in 2010 (some 310,000 people) is second only to that of sub-Saharan Africa.


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