Wednesday, September 16, 2015
HIV Care ~ New Territory
Over the past month we have taken in five new children into our mission center in Asikuma, Ghana who are HIV+. Taking in HIV orphans to our center is new territory for us. We are starting to understand that the HIV/AIDS situation in this region in Ghana is more prevalent than initially thought. This is especially the case in a nearby town to Asikuma called Peki, which is a ten minute drive from our mission center. Currently we are becoming educated on the virus/disease and are working to understand the treatment options available in Ghana.
Many of the HIV orphans coming into our care have had their parents recently die of AIDS. For those families who are still surviving with the disease, they are stigmatized in their villages, which is in itself life-threatening as no one will buy the goods they sell to create a business for themselves. In the stigmatization, their opportunity to produce an income and therefore meet the physical needs of their family is not existent. At the same time, most of these living with HIV in Ghana are going untreated and unmedicated due to their situation of poverty. This means their body’s immune system continues to self-destruct as time goes by. This makes them even more susceptible to the diseases and sicknesses in the country that a ‘healthy’ immune system would be able to guard against. For young children, untreated HIV grants them a life expectancy of about 12 years.
On top of all this, we are finding that the doctors in Ghana also discriminate against HIV patients and do not want it known that they treat those with the disease. Additionally there are already few doctors in Ghana who are trained to assess and monitor HIV patients. These two factors combined have presented quite the hunt for us in uncovering access to effective treatment.
Long term, Acts2Collective is looking to develop an HIV Center/Clinic where HIV testing can be available, patients could come for checkups and have their blood levels checked consistently (imperative to the process of treating HIV with medicine), and the center would also contain a pharmacy and administer the doses for the daily medications needed – namely for the children in our mission center. The architectural drawings for the center are already complete. It will cost about $75,000 to build.
Short term, Acts2Collective needs to adequately be able to care for the HIV cases brought to us. Mainly funds are needed to cover doctor visits, medicine, and cost of physical needs for those we are caring for.
One such case is of a 9 year old girl named 'E' who is HIV+. She lost both of her parents to AIDS and was being taken care of by her grandmother, but just two weeks ago her grandmother also passed away. Acts2Collective has been turned to for help in caring for 'E'.
Another case is that of 7 year old 'B' who is also HIV+. He was recently abandoned by his mother in the village of Asikuma and is now being taken care of and living at our mission center in Asikuma.
Then there is 'M'….'A'….and 'J'…. The stories do not relent and the children in need keep coming. We want to be in position to provide a safe place for those turning to us for help, as well as to be able to take an offensive approach in effectively treating these children living with this virus.
HIV is spread in three main ways: Sexual contact, IV drug use (through the sharing of dirty needles), and mother to infant (through pregnancy, birth or breast feeding). HIV is not passed from one person to another by casual contact such as: touching or hugging; sharing household items like utensils, towels, and bedding; contact with sweat or tears; sharing facilities such as swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs, or toilets; or by coughing/sneezing.
HIV is not found in sweat, urine, feces, tears, saliva or snot. It is found in blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk.
While HIV may live for a short while outside of the body, HIV transmission has not been reported as a result of contact with spillages or small traces of blood, semen or other bodily fluids. This is partially because HIV dies quickly once exposed to the air, and also because spilled fluids would have to get into a persons bloodstream to infect them.