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Unanswered questions surround the National Aids Council

Once again the battle against the South African AIDS epidemic has been dealt a blow with controversy and politicking surrounding the long awaited announcement of the National AIDS Council.Now the danger, according to AIDS activists, is that as in the past with Sarafina 2 and Virodene, good intentions on the side of government, will do more harm than good.
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Gauteng trying to come to grips with an epidemic threatening to overwhelm the hospitals

Faced with the daunting task of trying to manage an AIDS epidemic which has the potential "to overwhelm our services", care givers, doctors, nurses and management from the Gauteng Health Department recently met in Johannesburg, hoping to find answers. Dr Liz Floyd, head of the province'€™s AIDS programme, said they were already losing people prematurely. "Good, fast treatment could have avoided that," she said.
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Quality care up to the last minute

"Mama Khoza" spends most of her weekends at graveyards, not really to honour those who have already moved on, but as she puts it "to bury the cream of Mamelodi". "I told someone last week. We are burying the cream of Mamelodi - youngsters who are in the process of completing their degrees," says Veronica Khoza, a retired nurse, who now runs Tateni, a community-based home care project.
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Community service doctors make a difference

Community service for doctors in South Africa was conceived amid controversy, but has emerged as a symbol of the commitment of the health department and the medical establishment to equity in the health system, according to the SA Health Review. But a concern remains the fact that unclear policy guidelines in the first year of implementation lead to only 259 (less than 25%) of the community service doctors being placed in rural hospitals, while 55% were working in regional, tertiary and specialised hospitals.First year intakes for medical students have shown a trend towards a more equitable racial distribution of students with a decrease in white students and an increase in the number of African students, the SA Health Review has revealed.
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Condoms – colour counts

February 7 to 12 is National Condom Week, yet despite the HIV/AIDS epidemic, most people are still not using condoms. Efforts to give teenagers access to condoms are hampered by conservative attitudes. One AIDS educator says although he'€™s conducted workshops at more than 400 schools in Gauteng, only five schools have allowed him to distribute condoms.
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Protecting youth at risk

The growing problem of drug dependency and alcoholism among youth worldwide is well documented. At the 10th World Congress of the International Commission for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency held recently in Cape Town, several presentations focused on how to protect teenagers from dangerous choices. A crucial element it seems, is in meaningful relationships between adults and children.
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Home-based care is not cheap care

The need for cheap alternatives to hospitalisation for patients with AIDS-related diseases has led to increasing government support for home-based care. However, a study released by the Centre for Health Policy at the University of the Witwatersrand warns that home-based care is not always a cheaper solution. The study shows that home-based care also needs resources, even if the programme relies mainly on volunteers.
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Facing up to the flu

Flu experts hold different views as to which strain of influenza is going to hit South Africans hardest this winter, but they all agree on one thing: a flu jab is a must. An anti-flu vaccine administered in March will help boost your ability to resist the virus or to recover quicker from the flu should it strike.
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