Saturday, October 14, 2006

Weekend Meandering

I'm anticipating a quiet weekend. I finished the grades. Although I COULD grade the new stuff - no way! I'm going to have a totally indulgent weekend. I deserve it.

Is it just me, or is the Foley scandal kind of anemic? I mean, what are we to make of a sex scandal with no sex? What's next - a drunken carouse without booze?

I'm a little concerned about the "Project Red" initiative. It's the new whimsy by Bono to increase the amount of money he and his cronies control that, theoretically, are used to fight AIDS, Tb and Malaria. What is Global Fund?

If you want to see what the Fund has previously spent the money on, go to this page, and you can download each round of proposals, with all the details. For instance, in Round 5,
Total Total approved US$ 770 million in 60 countries

By Region

East Asia & the Pacific - US$ 128 million in 17 countries
Eastern Europe & Central Asia - US$ 27 million in 8 country
Latin America & the Caribbean - US$ 54 million in 4 countries
North Africa & the Middle East - US$ 63 million in 4 countries
South Asia - US$ 24 million in 2 country
Sub-Saharan Africa: East Africa - US$ 135 million in 5 countries
Sub-Saharan Africa: Southern Africa - US$ 124 million in 8 countries
Sub-Saharan Africa: West & Central Africa - US$ 210 million in 12 countries

By Disease HIV US$ 315 million in 25 countries
HSS US$ 38 million in 3 countries
Malaria US$ 202 million in 26 countries
Tuberculosis US$ 213 million in 23 countries
I'm currently wading through the verbiage the Global Fund has put up, however, it seems that the summaries of their work may be somewhat misleading.

They claim to fund locally-based initiatives. However, perusal of the documents indicates that the most common recipient (and disburser) of funds is MOH - for Americans, that's Ministry of Health, a national-level authority. So, even though the MOH may dole out the funds to local groups, the power is with the state.

From Cambodia's report
While sex work largely determined the course of the Cambodian epidemic in the early and mid 1990s, producing 90 percent of new infections and 70 percent in 1995, the success of condom promotion efforts for sex workers and clients has changed modes of transmission. The 2003 data of the HSS showed that HIV prevalence among sex workers was falling. Furthermore, a gap between HIV prevalence between younger and older sex workers suggests that incidence is falling as well (HSS, 2004). Likewise, the prevalence rate among police has fallen. Generally, the number of men infected has decreased sharply from 100,000 in 1998 to an estimated 65,000 in 2003.
The number of infected women remained practically unchanged at around 57,000 during the same period. The number of new infections show a similar trend: From a peak of approximately 24,000 new HIV-infections/year among men in 1994, the number of new HIVinfections/year among men has decreased to approximately 1,500 per year. The prevalence rate among pregnant women tested at ANC sites has stabilised. This provides for a situation where women have an increasing share in the overall number of infected persons. From 35% in 1997 the proportion of infected women rose to 47% in 2003. The main route of transmission is now between spouses as well as other-to-child transmission.
The effects of a larger number of infections that occurred in the 1990’s, results in
increasing numbers of AIDS cases and deaths from AIDS. Despite a stabilising
epidemic, the number of orphans and children made vulnerable is therefore increasing.
So, fewer men are being infected, and fewer sex workers are being infected - but the rates are increasing? Are currently infected people taking up the hard work (pun intended) of spreading the joy disease around?

One phrase that I'm having a hard time understanding is "indirect sex workers". Am I missing something? I understand direct sex workers - what the Hoi Polloi call prostitutes or hookers. How can you "indirectly" have sex? Unless this is what they call those in the sex movie business.

Another puzzling part of the report
GOAL 5: To reduce HIV transmission by proven targeted interventions with brothel
based sex workers and to further strengthen prevention by working country wide
with other high risk groups (indirect sex workers, freelance sex workers, partner of
sex workers, men with symptomatic urethral discharge and MSM).
Are they trying to say that the MainStream Media is a high risk group?

Oh, I get it - Men having Sex with Men. Wouldn't do to use the word gay - people might misunderstand, and think AIDS is commoner among gay men.

Note that "other-to-child" phrase. From the US, that would almost always mean mother-to-child. I don't think so, in this case. I believe they've worded that report deliberately, to obscure the large numbers of exploited children in the sex industry. In short, kiddie predators are spreading the disease. What's the solution? Arrest the criminals?

No. Just throw around the condoms. That should do the trick.

It sounds as though the Global Fund is a giant condom-distributing machine, that also tests the blood supply. An enormous amount of money is to provide social services, medicine, and food. So, if a country wants the cash, it helps to claim large numbers are infected with AIDS or TB (which often is an opportunistic disease in an HIV-infected person). I'm not sure where the Malaria comes from. Bono doesn't strike me as a pro-DDT person.

I was right - here's the anti-malaria plan
ABUJA MALARIA SUMMIT TARGETS
By the end of 2005:
• At least 60% of people with malaria must have access to treatment within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms;
• At least 60% of those at risk for malaria should benefit from a combination of personal and community
preventive measures, such as insecticide-treated bed nets;
• At least 60% of pregnant women at risk of malaria will have access to preventive treatment;
• At least 60% of epidemics will be detected within two weeks of onset; and 60% of epidemics will be
responded to within two weeks of detection.
Translation - we won't spray, but we will RESPOND - with bed nets, treatment (of limited use once infected), and - for pregnant women - preventive treatment. Which, if I remember correctly, can cause deformities in the baby.

But, HEY - at least they won't use DDT.

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