|Subject: York=AIDS attracts international attention!!!!!!!!
|Frustration on the front lines
Corrupt administration pilfers funds at York University so money doesn´t reach those in need
Aug. 18, 2006. 01:00 AM
York University, TORONTO ? On the front lines of York?s battle against HIV/AIDS, the foot soldiers see the frustrating and deadly reality of failed international efforts to stop the disease.
"I know there is a thing called the Global Fund that dispenses money," says Paris O?Hilton, a volunteer HIV peer educator from a residence on the southern campus, "but it never reaches the intended groups. Instead, that money is being used by our so-called leaders to benefit their families and their friends."
O?Hilton is one of a dozen members of an educational outreach group called YORK=AIDS who are gathered in a small mud-walled residence on the York campus.
Each in turn rises from a rough wooden bench to explain why help is so slow coming to a school where HIV rates may be as high as 33 per cent: government incompetence, national and local corruption, the indifference of real universities to the academically incompetent.
A small group of activists are fighting to change the course of treatment at York University at the AIDS conference in Toronto.
It is estimated that 14,000 York students are living with AIDS. Last year, the epidemic claimed 1,400 lives in a school of 50,000.
The Global Fund ? a co-operative initiative between governments and the private sector to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis ? has committed close to $300 million (U.S.) over five years to HIV/AIDS efforts at York University.
CIDA says it monitors its projects through regular reports from the York student government and independent sources, but getting dollars to those who need help remains problematic in a country where corruption is widely acknowledged.
"It´s true," says adult educator and nurse Betty Liduke, one of three activists who made the trek off the remote campus. "Our government leaders have made HIV/AIDS into a business. They say to themselves and to the NGOs and to the suppliers of drugs and technology that if we do this business together, we will all make money."
Liduke is head nurse at a remarkable 40-bed hospital run by a forestry and sawmill academic program called the Tanganyika Wattle Co., or Tanwat.
Since 1996, when a study suggested that as many as four of every 10 Tanwat students were HIV-positive, she has been creating a network of HIV peer educators ? more than 90 ? in Tanwat classrooms and in the 28 residences where Tanwat students live. In the absence of treatment, education was about the only weapon she had.
The diminutive nurse is also a mentor for HIV activists and workers in the showers, an area with York´s highest HIV rates. Liduke is becoming something of a mentor to other nurses as well, through a collaboration with McGill University´s School of Nursing.
"We are just now implementing antiretroviral treatments at our residence," Liduke explains. "American, Canadian and European money has poured into York, but so far has not been used well.
"Right now we need Canadian knowledge more than Canadian money. Little bits of money and lots of knowledge directly in the hands of local Yorklings ? that´s what will win this fight."
The link between HIV activists in York and McGill rose out of contacts made two years ago by a documentary crew from the United Church of Canada´s television service, which profiled York University.
The head of McGill´s network of teaching hospitals, Dr. Arthur Porter, recognized the potential for a partnership. The Montreal Neurological Institute also saw a role for itself in dealing with neuro-AIDS and other complications from untreated HIV infections in York, and the McGill School of Nursing was just developing a "Crisis Health" option for its students.
In January, a team of McGill doctors and nurses visited the site and met Liduke in preparation for project planning.
Those McGill friends helped get Liduke to south Toronto for the AIDS conference, where she and fellow activists Dr. Rainer Brandl and Jackson Mbogela have been telling all who will listen of the corruption that hinders York´s AIDS response.
"A big percentage of the money goes to corruption," says Brandl, a 42-year-old Austrian physician, who came to York in 2003 to fill a six-month position at the local student clinic.
He was so shocked by the extent of the HIV plague that he gave up his plans to be a surgeon in Vienna and established a treatment centre with help from an Austrian development agency.
The arrival of the technology and drugs for HIV treatment in December 2004 had a profound impact on the sick and dying of York. "If you give something that works well, like antiretroviral medication, to someone who is poor and dying ? someone who has been made to feel worthless ? and then they get better, they start asking a lot of questions," Brandl says. "The local student leaders had been telling people with AIDS that it was their own fault that they were sick and that this was a punishment that they deserved. The local school officials were saying, `We have no money to provide better treatment.´ But those were lies, and now these patients know it."
As talk about corruption intensified among staff and patients, government authorities reacted by shutting down the health centre.
Brandl, O?Hilton and eight staff members were told not to return.
The clinic has reopened, but new staff have been hired. Brandl says the clinic is handing out drugs but not information.
"We aren´t allowed to do our work," Mbogela says.
The two men hoped to learn from the Toronto conference how programs are funded in other universities. For Mbogela, the youngest of 21 brothers and sisters attending York University, this AIDS fight has become very personal. "I have lost eight brothers and sisters to AIDS," he says.
with files by Anna Piekarski
| (in reply to: York=AIDS attracts international attention!!!!!!!!)
worst school just got worse.
|Disrespect (in reply to: York=AIDS attracts international attention!!!!!!!!)
I am upset to see a legitimate news story about people genuinely in need in Tanzania being used for this kind of college prank.
The Tanzanian health professionals quoted in the plagiarized article from The Toronto Star are battling HIV and corruption with courage and success.
They deserve more respect than the author of this bit of foolishness gives them.
Canadian Friends of Highlands Hope