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Teaching HIV Prevention to the Young and Not-So-Young

A look at projects in Kenya and Brazil. Also, a researcher says South Africa's former government could have prevented 343,000 AIDS deaths with medicine. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

A researcher says three hundred forty-three thousand AIDS deaths in South Africa in the last ten years could have been prevented. Nicoli Nattrass blames the former government of Thabo Mbeki for delays in providing antiretroviral drugs.

She directs the AIDS and Society Research Unit at the University of Cape Town School of Economics. Her study is in the journal African Affairs. She says the former president and his health minister scared people away from the drugs which suppress H.I.V. The former president claimed they were unsafe and ineffective.

H.I.V. is the virus that causes AIDS. A new study in the journal Nature has shown some hopeful results from an experimental gel that might protect women from H.I.V. The gel is made from glycerol monolaurate. GML is commonly added to food products to protect against harmful microbes.

Scientists at the University of Minnesota and the National Cancer Institute in the United States tested the gel on female monkeys. The study used an animal form of H.I.V. More studies are needed to know if the gel could work for humans.

In Kenya, a project aims to educate girls about H.I.V. prevention while helping them stay in school during their monthly periods. Girls from poor families can miss up to a week of school each month because they do not have enough money for supplies.

So a group called AmericaShare worked with the Johnson & Johnson company to produce washable sanitary napkins. The American program known as PEPFAR provided the H.I.V. information to include in kits with the napkins. PEPFAR is the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

In the future, project organizers want to have international donors buy the kits for girls and young women who cannot afford them. The kits are called Huru, Swahili for "Freedom."

Also in Kenya, a video game is being tested as another way to teach young people to avoid H.I.V. The game is called "Pamoja Mtaani," which means "Together in the Hood." The project involves PEPFAR and Warner Brothers Entertainment. Another company, Virtual Heroes, made the game.

Young people are not the only ones who need to protect themselves against H.I.V. The Bulletin of the World Health Organization reports that Brazil has a new education campaign aimed at people over the age of fifty. Their infection rate has doubled since nineteen ninety-six.

And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. I'm Steve Ember.