Age-specific Support Crucial For People Living With HIV
December 1st is World AIDS Day and Project HOPE joins in to show its support for people living with HIV (PLHIV) and commemorate global efforts to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Millions of people now receive life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ART) and care, improving their quality of life. Still, life-long adherence to treatment is challenging. Helping PLHIV to start and stay on treatment is crucial. Given the broad age range, from pediatric populations through to adolescents and adulthood, the need for age–specific support is crucial for individuals, their families and their communities.
In Namibia, Project HOPE works together with partners, communities and health services across seven regions to increase access to comprehensive treatment, care and socio-economic support for patients and their families.
Children, especially those who have lost family members or who have been orphaned by HIV, are very vulnerable. A recent UNAIDS report highlights that less than half of HIV infected children receive needed medical services. Since 2004, Project Hope has been working in Namibia to improve the quality of life for these children. This is achieved by building economic security and improving the capacity of families and caregivers to provide a safer, more secure environment and improve access to health and other service.
In northern Namibia, 50 year-old Wilka Namupala takes care of 11 children. Through Project HOPE’s Village Savings and Loan program, she learned how to save money and better care for her children. With a loan, she started a small business selling traditional drinks and groceries in her village. The profits are used to further support her family.
In the Oshikoto Region, Teopolina Niitembu shared her enthusiasm on how the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Curriculum of Project HOPE has helped her to understand and take better care of her children. She encouraged the organization to assist other caregivers with the same information to also change their lives in the same way hers has changed. In the same region, Henock Petrus, 73 years old, shared his story of how he has learned about savings and child minding from Project HOPE.
Project HOPE’s TB programs in Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia also address the deadly duo of TB HIV co-infection. We support public health services and NGOs to ensure that all TB patients receive HIV counseling and testing and, for those co-infected individuals, early access to ART during their TB treatment.
In Malawi, over 60% of TB patients are infected with HIV. We work with the national TB program and partners to better integrate HIV and TB services. We empower communities by increasing their awareness of TB and HIV and to become more engaged in supporting those affected. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, access to HIV/TB services is a challenge for the key populations, such as injecting drug users, migrants, prisoners and sex workers. Project HOPE supports efforts to improve access to TB/HIV services in general and also for these groups.
We live in exciting times. Better tools to address the HIV epidemic now available need to be scaled-up and the gains already made sustained. Helping PLHIV, especially children and key populations, to access treatment, care and social support and better integration of HIV services, will pave the way to a better future for millions.
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