Monday, July 8, 2002

Allison Dunfield
Globe and Mail Update

CIDA gives $53.3-million for AIDS fight

Camille Cabral, of France, a member of the Act-Up French AIDS group protests the high cost of drugs during the International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain, Monday. Photo: Denis Doyle/AP
Camille Cabral, of France, a member of the Act-Up French AIDS group protests the high cost of drugs during the International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain, Monday. Photo: Denis Doyle/AP

Canada will contribute $53.3-million through the Canadian International Development Agency to fight AIDS in developing countries including Africa, China and Pakistan, International Co-operation Minister Susan Whelan announced Monday.

Ms. Whelan is in Barcelona attending the AIDS 2002 conference.

The funds, which were part of an initiative announced in the December federal budget, will go toward existing programs to control and combat the spread of AIDS in third world countries.

"Fighting HIV/AIDS is an important and integral component of CIDA's development work," said Ms. Whelan in a statement. "In all of our programs, we continue to tackle the root causes of the pandemic — poverty and inequality."

Today's funding has been earmarked for specific areas in several countries, and will be dispersed to these agencies, among others:

  • Canadian Public Health Association, $31.5-million over five years to encourage changes to health through awareness in Southern Africa, including a training and mentoring program for community-based organizations
  • University of Manitoba, $7.8-million over five years for it along with its partner, the University of Nairobi for the two to continue their work to stop the spread of AIDS in Kenya. Programs include helping female sex trade workers get off the streets by providing them with loans to start up alternate employment in fields such as hairdressing, and helping the University of Nairobi create a centre for HIV prevention to train health providers
  • consortium of the University of Manitoba, Agriteam Canada Ltd., and ProAction: Partners for Community Health Inc., $5-million over five years to develop a program to improve disease control programs in Pakistan
  • UNAIDS, $2.2-million to help increase awareness of AIDS in China. Programs include the creation of an AIDS information Web site, establishing a national AIDS resource centre and increasing awareness of condom use

The conference, scheduled to last until Friday, has attracted top AIDS researchers from around the world.

A study released Monday said that young gay men (ages 18 to 28) who participated in risky sexual behaviour decreased their activities after intense education programs about safer sex, said researchers from the University of California at San Francisco who introduced the program to young males.

The researchers interviewed gay men in three communities, Albuquerque, N.M., Austin and Phoenix, in 1996 about their sexual behaviour, before they implemented an intense education program in Alburquerque.

The prevention program introduced in Albuquerque in 1997-98 consisted of creating a youth centre for gay men, providing information to homosexuals through friends connected with the centre, providing facts on same-sex intercourse at gay events and venues, holding small group sessions at which homosexuals could discuss sexual attitudes, and a publicity campaign.

The goal of the study was to help men decrease unhealthy sexual behaviour, which was defined as unprotected anal intercourse, by increasing peer support and by providing clear information on the subject.

After interviewing the subjects after they had taken part in 12-month program, the study found a 12 per cent decrease in unprotected anal sex among subjects in Albuquerque.

This was compared with two other cities, Austin and Phonex, which reported 42 per cent and 26 per cent increases in these activities in 1998-99.

These two cities did not receive the community education programs.

"Just handing out condoms or discussing safer sex is not going to do the job [of education]," said the study's author, Susan Kegeles, professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco's Center for AIDS Prevention Studies.

"You need to establish places that are not gay bars or cruising areas where young gay men can create a community that supports them," she said.

The study was presented in Barcelona Monday.

Meanwhile, research released on Sunday to coincide with the conference said that one in seven people contracting AIDS today are infected with "superbugs" which are resistant to the usual drug cocktails.

Another report published by the U.S. Census bureau and released Sunday to the Barcelona conference said that the disease will cut life expectancy in 51 countries over the next eight years.

According to a recent UNAIDS report, 40 million people around the globe are living with HIV/AIDS and five million of them were infected in 2001.

Among the delegates to this year's conference are HIV/AIDS infected persons.

"This conference has to be a mobilizing force, a place where all of us come together and say, 'we are going to make this work'," said Philippa Lawson of the International Community of Women Living With AIDS (ICW).

"If we can't, then I'm sorry but we shouldn't be here, because this is not about us, it's about all those people who are not here, who are in the villages, dying or getting infected."

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Created: July 9, 2002
Last modified: July 9, 2002
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