East Timor hero Xanana Gusmao calls for restraint after campaign violence

Xanana Gusmao’s National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction party said 18 of its supporters in Vikeke district were injured over the weekend and two vehicles damaged in an attack by members of rival faction Fretilin. (AP)
Updated 07 May 2018
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East Timor hero Xanana Gusmao calls for restraint after campaign violence

VIKEKE, East Timor: East Timorese independence hero Xanana Gusmao is calling on supporters not to be provoked after campaigning for elections this week was marred by violence.
Gusmao’s National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction party said 18 of its supporters in Vikeke district were injured over the weekend and two vehicles damaged in an attack by members of rival faction Fretilin.
The parliamentary elections next Saturday are the second in less than a year for East Timor after the Fretilin-led minority government collapsed in January.
After the alleged attack last Saturday, Gusmao said Fretilin was a party of violence that should be shut down but also urged his supporters to show restraint.
“I ask all of you not to respond to provocation from other parties’ members,” he said. “When you return home, you should keep your own security and do not serve violence.”
Jorge Ribeiro, a local official with Gusmao’s party, said police and soldiers who responded to the violence have not arrested anyone. Vikeke’s police commander Antonio Mauluto said the incident is being investigated. Mari Alkatari, secretary-general of Fretilin, did not immediately respond to phone calls or text messages seeking comment.
The election pits a loose grouping of Fretilin and one minor party against a formal alliance of three parties led by Gusmao’s National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction, who together voted against Fretilin’s policy program and budget, resulting in the new election.
East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, was occupied by Indonesia for a quarter century. It gained independence after a UN-sponsored referendum in 1999 but reprisals by the Indonesian military devastated the East Timorese half of the island of Timor.
Today, the country of 1.3 million people still faces grim poverty. Leaders including Gusmao, who was East Timor’s first president, from 2002 to 2007, and prime minister from 2007 to 2015, have focused on big-ticket infrastructure projects to develop the economy, funding them from a dwindling supply of former oil riches, but progress is slow.
Presidential and parliamentary elections last year were the first held without UN supervision.


Nearly four in 10 US HIV infections from people unaware of infection

This electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health shows a human T cell, in blue, under attack by HIV, in yellow, the virus that causes AIDS. (AP)
Updated 7 min 40 sec ago
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Nearly four in 10 US HIV infections from people unaware of infection

  • The Trump administration has said it will invest $291 million in the next financial year to fight HIV/AIDS, which has plateaued since 2013 to around 39,000 annual transmissions
WASHINGTON: Almost 40 percent of new HIV cases in the US occur because people do not know they are infected, while a similar proportion know but are not in treatment, according to a study released Monday.
The report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is based on 2016 data and aims to bolster a strategy outlined by President Donald Trump to end the epidemic within 10 years.
The strategy has two main strands: far more widespread screening, and enabling the infected better access to treatment from the moment they test positive.
The study found that 38 percent of infections came from HIV-positive people who were unaware of their status, and 43 percent from people who knew they were infected but took no anti-retroviral drugs.
The remaining infections came from people who were receiving HIV treatment but were not yet “virally suppressed.”
The CDC blamed financial, social and other reasons for people not using medication, which these days typically comes in the form of a daily pill with minimal side effects.
The study said that the infection rate from the half million people in the United States who take medication and are virally suppressed — meaning they cannot pass on the disease to others — was zero.

The most at-risk group remains homosexual men, with almost three-quarters of new infections coming from men having sex with men, the report said.
Five percent of infections came from intravenous drug abuse among homosexual men, while 10 percent came from injecting drugs among the rest of the population.
Twelve percent of infections were among heterosexuals. Overall, the highest rate of transmission was among 13 to 24-year-olds.
The Trump administration has said it will invest $291 million in the next financial year to fight HIV/AIDS, which has plateaued since 2013 to around 39,000 annual transmissions.
The goal is to reduce that number by 75 percent within five years and by 90 percent in 10 years.
Questioned about the relatively small amount of money earmarked for the multi-billion dollar task of treating HIV carriers, CDC head Robert Redfield said he was “confident that the resources that are required to accomplish this mission are in the long term plan.”
The CDC, based in Atlanta, Georgia, wants doctors to make HIV screening a routine procedure.
“Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime,” said Eugene McCray, the head of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.
“Those at higher risk should get tested at least annually,” he said.
“The key to controlling is helping those with HIV to control the virus,” said the CDC’s Jonathan Mermin, who focuses on preventing the spread of the HIV as well as other sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis and hepatitis.
“Time spent working closely with patients who are having trouble paying for, picking up or taking their daily medications is time well spent“