We can end AIDS: The UN has set a goal of ending AIDS by 2030. This can be achieved if 80%, (current number is 59%) of all people living with HIV are on treatment. Ending AIDS will generate profound health and economic benefits globally. The African countries will see a significant increase in GDP and ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages will put the world on the path to sustainable development as envisioned by the UN’s sustainable development goals for 2030.
Our response: To help end AIDS, we added 50 HIV+ children to our pediatric HIV care program last May. Our Project Nurse has created a personalized health plan for all new children and the focus of our trained health care team is to stabilize and improve the health outcomes of these children so that they never develop AIDS.
In this group of new children, 14 out of 50 are less than five years old. Additional monitoring is provided to these children as their immune systems are still developing and they are susceptible to opportunistic infections. Out of the remaining 36 children, 28 are between 6-12 years of age, and 8 are between 13-17 years. For these children our focus is to stabilize their health so that they can attend school regularly. In addition, children older than 11 years and on ARV medication, are being monitored and trained in adherence to medication. Our goal with children on ARV medication is: (i) they are aware of and accept their HIV+ status, and (ii) can take medications and visit the clinic on their own. For all children on medication, our goal is 100% adherence to medication.
How do we assist families in taking care of their health? This program provides a comprehensive package of services to ensure that orphans and vulnerable children have the care and support they need to stay healthy and thrive. The package of services includes: food, high-protein supplements, regular health check-ups by trained health workers, psycho-social counseling, education in HIV prevention, and adherence monitoring and training for older children. In addition, family members are provided with training in basic home nursing, hygiene, education in HIV, and encouraged to go in for HIV testing and cancer screening. The program also provides support for school expenses to the poorest families, mosquito bed nets, invites children to participate in our weekly educational games program, and encourages women to enroll in our microloans program
Direct beneficiaries are 400 HIV+ children and their families Most children are orphans, living with a grandmother/aunt or other extended family members who need support themselves and are often the sole caregivers for multiple orphaned children.
Mimi is a typical child in our program. She is nine years old, a single orphan and the youngest of eight siblings. Her father who is on medication for HIV, cares for her and her siblings. Mimi enrolled earlier this year as she was suffering from rashes, headache, and fever. Her health is better now, and she attend school regularly. She is studying in grade four.
Program Impact: Before joining our program, children like Mimi, are in poor health due to malnutrition, fatigue, chronic opportunistic infections and are unable to attend school regularly. Under the care of trained family members supported by our trained health care staff, better nutrition, and psychosocial counseling, most children stabilize and improve in health 4-5 months after enrollment. They start interacting better with other children and have fewer missed days at school. In addition, family members become more knowledgeable about HIV and learn how to take care of their own health.
Thanks for helping keep HIV+ orphans and vulnerable children healthy and in school.