As a result of the generosity and caring of donors such as you, we were able to add 50 HIV+ children to our pediatric HIV care program in March 2016. With the addition of these 50 children, we now have a total of 300 HIV+ children; every one of these 300 children will receive food, medicines and a package of life saving health care services till they turn 18 years of age. The package of life saving health care services includes weekly visits from community health workers, monthly visits from the Project Nurse, psycho-social counseling, education in HIV prevention, and adherence monitoring and training for older children. In addition, primary caregivers (most are single moms and many are grandmothers caring for multiple orphans) of children will undergo a five day training in caring for an HIV positive child.
We are confident that the new children will stabilize and improve in health over the next few months. Our goal for these children is to attend school, graduate from high school, and live close to normal lives.
Impact of this program: Once the child has been under our care for 4-5 months, the child stabilizes in health; this is indicated by a reduced frequency and intensity of opportunistic infections. In subsequent months, the child improves in health; which is indicated by a sustained increase in weight, and higher CD4 counts. As the children stabilize and improve in health, they miss fewer days of school and perform better at school. In addition, the child’s caregiver has better understanding of HIV, the importance of keeping children in school, and in caring for HIV+ children, and other sick members in the family. With better understanding about HIV, family members begin to come forward for testing for HIV, which is the first step in prevention of this disease. Finally, trained caregivers share their knowledge about HIV care and prevention with others in the community.
Training to caregivers: Caregivers of children are provided with a five day training in HIV care, and prevention. The goal of this training is to equip the family member with basic nursing skills and psychosocial counseling so that the child is under the care of a trained caregiver 24/7. Post training, family members are able to take better care of different kinds of opportunistic infections common among HIV+ children at home and are able to escalate care to the next level. As a result, most children stabilize and improve in health (measured by fewer opportunistic infections, gain in weight, higher CD4 counts), once they have been under our care for 4-5 months and beyond.
Profile of the new children: The new group of 50 children range in age from two to sixteen years with a majority of them in the age range from 6-12 years and most between 2-16 years. Since most of the children are of school going age, our goal is to ensure that they attend school and help family members understand the importance of continued schooling. Our goal is for these children to stay heathy and graduate middle, and high school.
To sum: With the addition of these 50 children, we will have a total of 300 HIV+ children who receive food, medicines and a package of life saving health care services. We are confident that these children will show a marked improvement in health, attend school and live close to normal lives.