Information Update - 20th June, 2006


We are pleased to bring you the fourth issue of the regular Update of the African Broadcast Media Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (ABMP). In this issue, we focus on the latest data from UNAIDS tracking the HIV/AIDS global pandemic. Although UNAIDS concludes that HIV prevalence has peaked worldwide, sadly stabilization of prevalence rates at extraordinarily high levels in Africa is mainly attributable to mortality. UNAIDS recommends accelerated and scaled-up prevention efforts to reduce this deadly epidemic.

We also include the annual report on the work of member companies of the Global Media Initiative for HIV/AIDS (GMAI) presented to U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan on June 2 by Bill Roedy (Vice Chairman, MTV Networks) in his capacity as chair of GMAI’s media leadership committee. The report describes the strides of the GMAI in energizing broadcast media worldwide to play a larger and more effective part in curbing HIV/AIDS. The African Broadcast Media Partnership Against HIV/AIDS is highlighted in the report as a strong regional model of broadcast media leadership. Another innovative example of media leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS was presented by the London Independent in May when it dedicated an entire edition, and 50% of the revenue from that edition, to HIV/AIDS and invited Irish rock star turned social campaigner, Bono, to edit it. An excellent example of how HIV/AIDS awareness can also be good business!

Kaiser-CNN Award for Excellence in HIV/AIDS Journalism in Africa

The first annual Kaiser-CNN Award for Excellence in HIV/AIDS Journalism in Africa will be presented at a glittering event in Maputo, Mozambique on July 15. More than 135 applications from 29 African countries were reviewed by an independent selection panel. The Award winner and 15 finalists short-listed for the Award will participate in a four day seminar on HIV/AIDS reporting following the Award ceremony. This same group will participate in workshops organized by the Kaiser Family Foundation leading in to the International AIDS Conference in Toronto in August. Preceding the CNN Award ceremony in Maputo, more than 70 top-level African journalists from across the continent will participate in a day long interactive seminar, organized by the Kaiser Family Foundation and lead by Mrs. Graca Machel , on the Impact of HIV/AIDS on Africa’s Development Prospects. For more information of the CNN/Multichoice African Journalism Award finalists see the broadcast content tab at www.broadcasthivafrica.org

For media registration and other information on the International AIDS Conference in Toronto click here

PLEASE NOTE: The next annual summit of chief executives of ABMP signatory companies is scheduled for SEPTEMBER 20, 2006 in MAPUTO preceded by a meeting of the ABMP Steering Committee on September 19. Mark it in your calendar. More information will follow. We hope to see you there.

UNAIDS 2006 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic

An estimated 24.5 million people are living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, of which two million are children under the age of 15 years. This is according to the latest AIDS estimates and new trends from UNAIDS released on 30th May, 2006. While the AIDS epidemic appears to be slowing down globally, new infections are continuing to increase in certain regions and countries. An estimated 2.7 million people in sub-Saharan Africa became newly infected, while 2 million adults and children died of AIDS in 2005. These findings, reported in the 2006 UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, shows that overall, HIV prevalence in the sub-Saharan African region appears to be leveling off, albeit at exceptionally high levels in southern Africa. There were some 12 million orphans living in sub-Saharan Africa in 2005.

The report shows that important progress has been made in country AIDS responses, including increases in funding and access to treatment, but even though there have been marginal decreases in HIV prevalence among young people in a few African countries over the past five years, infection rates in most of the worst affected countries continue to climb.

Globally, an estimated 38.6 million people were living with HIV in 2005, while an estimated 4.1 million became newly infected with HIV. UNAIDS also estimates that 2.8 million people worldwide lost their lives to AIDS.

View side bar to download report

The Global Media AIDS Initiative (GMAI) has released a report that highlights expanded commitments by media companies worldwide to address the HIV and AIDS epidemic, as well as further action needed to increase momentum and support for HIV prevention. The report, which was released on June 2, 2006, was presented to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the UN’s 2006 High-Level Meeting on AIDS by Bill Roedy, Chair of the GMAI’s Leadership Committee and Vice Chairman, MTV Networks.

Key among the regional achievements highlighted in the report is the commitment of the African Broadcast Media Partnership Against HIV/AIDS to dedicate five per cent of daytime airtime to HIV/AIDS-related programming and messaging and to work together on a coordinated pan-African public education campaign.

View side bar to download report

image courtesy: The Independent

Bono, Guest Editor: I am a witness. What can I do?
published 05.16.06
The Independent

May I say without guile, I am as sick of messianic rock stars as the next man, woman and child. I am also tired of average work being given extra weight because it's attached to something with real gravitas, like the Aids emergency. So I truly try to tread carefully as I walk over the dreams of dignity under my feet in our work for the terrible beauty that is the continent of Africa. I'm used to the custard pies. I've even learnt to like the taste of them. But before you are tempted to let fly with your understandable invective, allow me to contextualise. Not for the sake of my vanity, but for the sake of people who are depending on you - the reader - to respond to the precariousness of their lives.

Picture this: a village where the disappearance of a whole generation has left children to bring up children (the Lord of the Flies syndrome).

I'm a witness to this. What can I do?

Or this: my new friend Prudence, who even if she had access to anti-retroviral therapies would not have shared them with her now dead sister or best friend Janny, because her fellow activists were more important to keep alive.

Why? Because picture this: most activists and trained nurses cannot afford the drugs available to us in any corner chemist.

I am a witness to this. I have watched these brave and beautiful souls who are fighting a forest fire of a pandemic with watering cans, knowing they will not see the light of a day when their work will be honoured. I have been a witness to their conversations around canteen tables, deciding who will live or die, because they do not have enough pills to go round. I've seen Zackie Achmat refuse his medications until he won his action against the South African government, forcing their hand on universal access. What a witness he was. And so I testify.

These firefighters deserve fire engines with sirens and low-flying aircraft with bellies full of of rain. At the very least, they deserve their situation to merit the classification of an emergency. Code Red, like Hurricane Katrina or the tsunami in south Asia, which swept away a hundred and fifty thousand lives. These were natural catastrophes. Africa loses a hundred and fifty thousand men, women, and children every month to Aids, a wholly avoidable disaster, a preventable, treatable disease.

Colin Powell describes the tiny little virus HIV as the most lethal weapon of mass destruction on the planet. So forgive us if we expand our strategy to reach the high street, where so many of you live and work.

We need to meet you where you are as you shop, as you phone, as you lead your busy, businessy lives. Those of us who campaign on these issues feel we have made a dent on the pop consciousness with Live Aid and 8, Red Nose Day, Comic Relief and Make Poverty History. But we are still losing the battle: 9,000 new infections every day across the developing world.

There will be those that think that RED is the worst idea they've ever heard.

On the far right, we will hear the usual carping about it being Africa's own fault (the same warped logic that would pass by a drunk driver's car accident). This despite the fact that the largest increasing group of HIV-positive people are monogamous married women. We'll hear the "Africans can't take pills because they don't have watches to tell the time" line. Even though Africans have the best record of us all at sticking to their drug regimens.

On the far left, we will meet "better dead than RED", a reaction to big business that is not wholly unjustified. But given the emergency that is Aids, I don't see this as selling out. I see this as ganging up on the problem. This emergency demands a radical centre, as well as a radical edge. Creeping up on the everyday. Making the difficult easy.

Product RED cannot replace activism. For anyone who thinks this means I'm going to retire to the boardroom and stop banging my fist on the door of No. 10, I'm sorry to disappoint you. We have to keep our marching boots on and hold our leaders to account for the promises they have made to Africa - and get them to promise more. The incredible movement we saw gathering around last year's G8 is what will, in the end, win the day. But for too many people, that day will be too late. Right now, people you will never meet, who will never be able to thank you, are depending on you for the life-saving drugs which buying this paper will buy. For those people, my motivation or our (RED) motivation is irrelevant.

For headline stories in the RED Independent  issue with its features focusing on AIDS in Africa, and which was edited by Bono, click here

Also go to www.data.org for more information on Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa (DATA), an organisation focused on raising awareness about issues in Africa centered on unpayable Debts, uncontrolled spread of AIDS, and unfair Trade rules which keep Africans poor.


  UNAIDS 2006 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic


For a summary of key findings in sub-Saharan Africa click here.

> For Global Facts and Figures click here.

> For the press release click here

> You can download the full report here:
  • English
  • French
  • Spanish
> For access to several archived media broadcasts on the launch of the report, click here

The launching of the UNAIDS Report coincides with a high level UN General Assembly unprecedented special session on HIV/AIDS – UNGASS – meeting which took place in New York. Click here and here for highlights of the meeting.

  The Global Media Aids Initiative: Harnessing the power of communication to save lives.


For the press release click here.

> For the full report click here.

> For information on the Global Media AIDS Initiative visit the newly launched Web site at www.thegmai.org