Kenya forms task force on HIV/AIDS

Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- Kenya has set up a legal task force to look into different aspects related to the control of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and protection of its victims.
Announcing formation of the unit in Nairobi Wednesday, Attorney-General Amos Wako said the disease posed many challenges to the Kenyan society.
The legal task force, he said, would highlight the challenges so as to make appropriate recommendations on laws for better prevention, management and control of the disaster.
The task force, expected to start its work within a fortnight, will advise government on the adoption of guidelines, regulations and procedures required to address the scourge, Wako explained.
It will will present its findings to the Attorney-General at the end of 2001.
In the course of its operation, the task force will look into human rights issues concerning widows and widowers, orphans, employees and other people living with AIDS.
"The rights of the persons who are affected with HIV must be protected and respected.
All of us are fighting a war to contain the (HIV/AIDS) pandemic and must ensure that we do so within a legal framework and with an outmost respect for human rights", Wako said.
He noted that the desperate situation brought by the HIV/AIDS had led to the mushrooming of many centres dealing with the disease, but lack of expertise and equipment compounded the situation.
For example, Wako said, some people had turned homes catering for AIDS orphans into money-spinners, a scenario that should be changed.
Research protocols were also being ignored as individuals infected with HIV were used for research purposes without benefit.
They were not informed of outcome and effect of the research before they could make an informed choice on whether or not to participate.
Though Kenyan scientists took part in development of substances for treating HIV cases, Wako said they did not include in research contracts provisions to secure benefit for their intellectual input.
"Formation of the legal task force will address such issues, together with others related to abuse of widows and orphans that are often perpetuated by negative cultural attitudes", he said.
Meanwhile, Kenya's Minister of State, Marsden Madoka, has advised his compatriots to stop laying emphasis on accessibility to anti-retroviral generic drugs.
He said the drugs would only prolong the patient's lifespan without curing the disease.
While there was need to urgently find a cure, he said people should change their sexual behaviour instead of lobbying for lower price tags on the drugs.
"Pharmaceutical firms may be concentrating much on anti- retroviral drugs rather than research to find a cure for the pandemic," Madoka cautioned.
The minister said Aids was no longer a health issue, but a developmental matter that was ravaging all sectors of the economy.

13 june 2001 12:23:00

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