Living With AIDS In Ethiopia

Ethiopia: Seven Days Update (Addis Ababa)
December 8, 1999

Addis Ababa - The AIDS pandemic in Ethiopia has finally received almost everyone's attention even that of the media.

Breaking the silence

Radio Ethiopia (November 30) reported that President Dr. Negasso Gidada has said that the Government of Ethiopia is ready to persist in the national drive to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS. In a statement he made on the occasion of World Aids Day, Dr. Negasso said his government is prepared to work closely together with the public in the fight against the pandemic. In a statement he gave in connection with World AIDS Day, Dr. Negasso stressed the need to break the silence on HIV/AIDS to protect the public against the disease. A five-year national program has been formulated to tackle the socio-economic as well as the psychological problems caused by HIV/AIDS. Preparations are underway to establish a governmental secretarial office and a national council charged with the task of coordinating the implementation of the program. People living with the virus should not be discriminated, Dr. Negasso said, and lauded the efforts being made by Dawn of Hope/ Ethiopia, a national anti-HIV/AIDS association.

WHO's OK, WHO isn't

VOA (December 1) disclosed that Dr. Aberra Tole, member of the Addis Ababa AIDS Prevention and Control Council, said at a mass rally organized to mark World AIDS Day that there are an estimated 287,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS in Addis Ababa. Meanwhile, the head of the Addis Ababa City Government, Ato Ali Abdo, has indicated that 700,000 people in the capital are believed to be HIV /AIDS patients. He recalled there were only two reported cases of HIV/AIDS in Addis Ababa 14 year ago. Addis Ababa leads all other urban centers in Ethiopia in terms of the speed of the spread of the disease.

In related news in the Addis Ababa Administration paper Addis Lissan (November 24), a study has indicated that 60 percent of deaths in Ethiopia will be caused by HIV/AIDS in the next four years if the current alarming spread of the disease is not checked. Speaking at a workshop on AIDS conducted in Kebele 27 for the staff of government and non-governmental organizations, Dr. Hailu Bekele, head of the District 19 health center, said the number of deaths caused by AIDS will increase in the future.

The American connection

According to VOA (December 1), the Partners Against HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia, a non- governmental anti-AIDS organization based in Washington D.C., conducted a panel discussion on raising public awareness on AIDS in Ethiopia. The meeting brought together doctors from Howard University, Johns Hopkins University and the Washington D.C. Unity Health Care. Dr. Tsegaye Wolde Giorgis from the Ethiopian Embassy also took part in the discussions under the theme "Let's End the Silence".

Dr. Debre Work Zewdie, Head of the World Bank's AIDS Control Unit and coordinator of the bank's campaign on fighting the spread of the disease in Africa, hailed the efforts of AIDS combat groups in Ethiopia such as Dawn of Hope/Ethiopia and the association of persons living with HIV/AIDS. She expressed appreciation for the group's commitment to break through an otherwise closed society where it is almost impossible for anyone to come out in the open and teach others about a disease commonly regarded as resulting from peoples' own faults. Dr. Debre Work, who was in Addis Ababa to attend the First International AIDS Conference, said during a VOA interview that Ethiopia's alarming number of AIDS infected children underscores the frightening magnitude of the epidemic in the country.

Seven Days Update, a weekly summary of the Ethiopian press , is available by subscription from Waag Communications Waag Communications Enterprize Pvt. Ltd provides this news summary for information purposes only and does not assume responsibility for the accuracy or the content of the news reports contained herein. Publisher & Editor: Tafari Wossen, Editor: Solomon Demrew