The goal of our pediatric HIV care program is to strengthen the community by equipping families with tools to take care of their HIV+ children. Family members of children enrolled are provided with training in caring for an HIV+ child, and education in HIV prevention. This leads to an improvement in the health of the children, prevention of HIV, and reduction in stigma associated with HIV.
Our pediatric HIV care program has taken big strides over the last year. Some of these are:
1. Addition of 100 Children: We were able to add 100 children in 2016 bringing the total number of HIV+ children in our care to 350. At this time, the new children are undergoing a complete health exam and health care professionals are designing a health plan for each child for the next 6-12 months.
2. We continue to achieve our goal of zero new HIV infections:In the last five years100%of children born to HIV+ moms were HIV free. Pregnant women are enrolled in our PMTCT (Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV) program so that we can maximize the chances of the new born child being HIV free.
3. Training Provided to Family members: Over the last two years 165 family members have been provided training in HIV prevention and care. This ensures that family members can identify and get treatment for infections in a timely manner to prevent escalation of the infection that can compromise a child’s health. Also, family members trained in HIV prevention and care share their knowledge with others in the community. This leads to improved knowledge, and better health for the entire community making it stronger.
4.HIV Prevention: As a result of better knowledge about HIV prevention, more than 240 family members have forward for HIV testing. This is critical for HIV prevention and spread.
5. Children Graduated: Over the last two years, 34 children turned 18 years of age and were graduated from the program. Some of these children come back as volunteers and are wonderful role models for younger children.
6. Improvement in health: New children added over the last 12 months are improving in health (measured by an increase in weight) and their immune system has become stronger (measured by an increase in CD4 count). Prior to enrollment most children complain of diarrhea, skin rashes, cough, malnourishment, and TB. However, once they have been on the program for 4-5 months, their health improves continuously and they start attending school regularly.
Thanks as always for helping us keep orphans and vulnerable HIV+ children in Zambia healthy and in school.