African First Ladies Focus on Ending HIV/AIDS Stigma
The first ladies of Kenya, Rwanda, Gabon and Uganda have pledged to end the stigma that surrounds HIV/AIDS, U.N. IRIN/AllAfrica.com reports. The women were meeting at a two-day conference, titled "United Against Stigma and Discrimination," that began Thursday in Rwanda. The first ladies said that HIV/AIDS is one of Africa's greatest threats but added that stigma prompted by fear and shame has harmed prevention and treatment efforts. Janet Kagame of Rwanda said that stigma originates from "[f]ear because testing positive is tantamount to a death sentence and shame because the HIV mode of transmission is surrounded by taboo and moral judgment." Approximately 70% of HIV-positive individuals worldwide live in sub-Saharan Africa, and 90% of new HIV infections occur in that region. The first ladies said that they would work with other African leaders to help reduce stigma. "The more alarm we raise about HIV/AIDS the more lives we will save," Uganda's Janet Museveni said (U.N. IRIN/AllAfrica.com, 6/5).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.