The American Foundation for Children with AIDS (AFCA) provides medical support to children with HIV/AIDS and their caregivers in sub-Saharan Africa. AFCA partners with local hospitals, health care providers, and other support organizations to provide anti-retroviral therapy (ARTs) and other needed medicines and supplies.
There are approximately 22.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 1.8 million people newly infected in 2009. The AIDS epidemic has affected this region more than any other in the world.
Yet, there are fewer people dying from HIV/AIDS than in the past. Thanks to ARTs, improvements in overall health care and nutrition, and educational programs, millions of people’s lives have been saved, including the lives of millions of children. Today, pregnant women are receiving counseling in how to prevent mother-to-child transmission. Children and their caregivers on ARTs are living healthy, productive lives. When they have access to antibiotics, they can also fend off other life-threatening diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria. Numbers of new infections are also decreasing as people learn how to prevent transmission; and, with more widespread testing, infections are being caught earlier, which also increases survival rates.
Still, there is much to be done. Many children with HIV/AIDS do not go to school. There are many reasons: they have no family, or their families cannot afford to send them, or they must work to help support the family, or the stigma associated with being infected is so great that they are not welcome in the schools.
Rising food prices affects all people in the region, but perhaps most especially those living in households affected by HIV/AIDS. Not only do the families and households have more limited resources due to sick members, but those with HIV/AIDS have greater nutritional requirements: without adequate nutrition, ARTs cannot be taken and are not effective.
Providing support to those infected gives them more than health and education, it also gives them hope; hope for their own survival and the survival of their child. And for the children, it is hope of becoming an adult and a valuable member of society.