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UN leader vows to help Haiti fight cholera epidemic
by Staff Writers
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) July 15, 2014

HIV scare after Australian health worker diagnosed with virus
Sydney (AFP) July 15, 2014 - Australian authorities were Tuesday urging 399 people in eastern Victoria state to have an HIV test after a health care worker was diagnosed with the virus that causes AIDS.

The Victorian Department of Health said it had conducted a thorough investigation and was following up with selected patients who had contact with the worker in the unnamed region.

"This is entirely precautionary as there are no reports of any patient contracting HIV from the health care worker," it said in a statement.

"But we are erring on the side of caution and recommending a blood test to rule out the presence of HIV."

One woman, who spoke on public radio without giving her full name, said she had felt "very sick in the stomach" after receiving a letter from the health department urging her to have a test.

"I don't know where I (may have) got it because it's all very secret at the moment," she said.

Authorities said the chances of infection passing from the health care worker to a patient were very low.

"As I understand it the latest numbers are, of the 399, contact has been made with 248, 88 have had tests and all of those tests have been negative," state Health Minister David Davis told reporters.

Officials cannot name the health worker or the procedures they were involved in or where they took place.

"What I can say is a health professional was detected with HIV, they have ceased practising," Davis said.

HIV is a blood-borne virus spread through unsafe sex with an infected person and blood-to-blood incidents such as needle stick injuries.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon visited Haiti on Monday, vowing to help the country end a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 8,500 people since 2010 and that some blame on UN peacekeepers.

Ban promised to seek $2.2 billion from international donors to help the destitute nation fight the disease, which has also infected more than 700,000 people, over the next 10 years.

There had been no cholera in Haiti for at least 150 years until it was allegedly introduced by Nepalese UN peacekeepers sent there in the wake of the devastating January 2010 earthquake.

The source of the cholera epidemic was traced to a river that runs next to a UN camp in the central town of Mirebalais, where Nepalese troops had been based, and the strain is the same as the one endemic in Nepal.

The United Nations has up to now denied any responsibility over the outbreak and has so far not offered an apology or compensation for the outbreak, even as three different lawsuits have been filed in US courts.

Before arriving in Haiti, Ban said it was the moral duty of the United Nations and the international community to help Haiti fight the disease.

"Regardless of what the legal implication may be, as the secretary-general of the United Nations and as a person, I feel very sad," Ban told the Miami Herald in a story published Sunday.

Ban, accompanied Monday by Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, visited a village in central Haiti that was particularly hard hit by the epidemic, speaking briefly in Haitian Creole to residents.

"I know that an unacceptable number of people are still affected by the disease. I am here today with my wife to tell you that I share your pain," Ban said.

"We are making progress and are going to continue to mobilize all of our energy to free Haiti from this disease," Ban said.


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UN has 'moral responsibility' to tackle Haiti cholera: Ban
United Nations, United States (AFP) July 14, 2014
The United Nations has a "moral responsibility" to help impoverished Haiti end a devastating cholera outbreak some blame on peacekeepers, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says. Ban spoke to The Miami Herald ahead of a visit to the Caribbean nation due to begin Monday during which he is set to visit families affected by cholera. The United Nations has so far denied any responsibility over the ou ... read more

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