The headline “Cameroon: Shortage of ARVs Hits Cameroon HIV/AIDS Patients” sent me into a spiral of concern. The actual article did not do much to quell my worry: half of those who need the life-saving medications will not be able to get them and a solution does not seem to be forthcoming. I have written before about how fragile the supply chain in Cameroon can be. Hospitals may not have equipment. Pharmacies might not have medication.
While the headline is nothing but shocking, we at EFA established the Circle of Love to counter-act such events. The fund allows our members who are living with HIV to access their treatment, in cases of stockouts, at private facilities that operate outside of the parameters of the national supply chain and funding stream. Our members contribute towards the cost of their visit, but the fund allows for them to visit the private clinics when necessary.
ARVs save lives. Simply. Our association members do everything in their power to protect their health and to prolong their lives. The Circle of Love gives them a little more power to care for themselves by allowing for continued access to their medications. In moments of massive drug shortages, the Circle of Love becomes even more critical to the continued good health of our members.
Thank you, again, for your support of the Circle of Love. Without you, your support and the Circle of Love, such news would be a devastating blow to our association members, their health, and our work together.
We at Education Fights AIDS are in the optimism business. Of course, there are lots of reasons for optimism in the fight against HIV: greater availability of life-saving medications, effective prevention of transmission of HIV from a mother to her child, and increased political will around the world to fund HIV prevention and treatment efforts. Our optimism makes us tireless and relentless. We will not tire in our fight to support our friends in Cameroon who are living with HIV nor will we relent in our efforts to educate their communities and participate in HIV prevention efforts.
The Circle of Love project is a testament to our optimism.
We believe in the potential of our association members. Life-saving medications will help them to realize their potential. If you recall, I had a visit from Pehlem in June. She came to the United States as a part of a United States Department of State program called the International Foreign Leaders Program. She was chosen to participate because of her inspiring work with EFA. During Pehlem's recent visit, I heard all about how our association members are realizing their potential. Of course, Pehlem is a prime example. In my excitement about her visit, couldn't help but think about when I first met Pehlem nearly five years ago. Five years ago she probably wouldn't have imagined that her life would have brought her to the United States. Five years ago she probably wouldn't have imagined that her daughter has a chance at college. Through the support and commradarie offered by Education Fights AIDS, Pehlem has been able to realize her potential.
Before she came to visit, I thought about how much she has changed and grown in the last five years. After her visit, I am filled with boundless optimism for what Pehlem is going to bring to the world in the years to come.
With your support of the Circle of Love, you are proving your optimism and believing in the potential of our association members. Thank you!
It has now been about 2 and a half years since I have been in Cameroon. I do my best to keep up-to-date with the members of our associations and all the great work that they are doing. I am constantly reminded of why we do this work and why we support the associations. For example, when we heard that one of our associaton members planned her pregnancy with her partner, sought medical care throughout, carefully adhered to her medication, and had a healthy, easy delivery and an HIV negative baby, I felt a mix of all positive emotions: happy, proud, relieved, and that the baby was evidence of our hard work.
Now, I have even more reason to be proud of the work that we are doing.
Pehlem Therese, the coordinator of Education Fights AIDS Peer Education program, was chosen to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) with the Department of State. She was nominated by the United States Embassy in Cameroon for her tireless work to support the HIV+ young people in Cameroon.
You can watch Pehlem here:
While she tours the United States with the IVLP, I eagerly await her visit to my home. I am eager for updates on each and every EFA member, on the work that we are doing together in Cameroon, and the success and reach that the Circle of Love has.
I will be sure to update all of you here. In the mean time, is there anything that you are curious about? What sort of update are you interested in?
Thank you for your continued support! EFA wouldn't be where we are today without your generous contributions and support!
Imagine living with a chronic disease. Imagine that you need to take daily medications to keep your illness under control. So far, not too difficult to imagine. People around the world live with chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease and manage their diseases. Now imagine that your doctor doesn’t have medication for your illness. In fact, it is not just your doctor who doesn’t have the treatment; it is your entire town. Imagine that you need to take diagnostic tests every so often to track the progression of your disease. Alas, those tests aren’t available in your town either. Or, maybe your health center doesn’t even have a doctor to begin with!
Hard to imagine, isn’t it.
Yet, this is the reality for the HIV+ young people in the Education Fights AIDS associations in Cameroon.
Many of the villages where our associations are located do not have HIV treatment at the local health center. For the associations with access to HIV care in their villages, frequent, long-lasting stockouts of medications and diagnostic tests still make adhering to their treatment a challenge.
Our association members have the motivation and the desire to live healthy lives but a messed up medical system and ineffectual supply chain challenges that resolve at every turn. We at EFA seek to empower the young people with whom we work. In this case, we need to capitalize on their resolve to live healthy lives and support their efforts to seek treatment and medical care.
The Circle of Love works. It works to bridge the divide between the tenacity of our HIV+ association members to adhere to their treatment and the reality of life in Cameroon.
Take, for instance, our association member “Cecilia”. Cecilia has been living with HIV for some time but suddenly found herself particularly ill and no longer able to attend school. Her association helped her access the Circle of Love funds to go to a health clinic that has the CD4 test and ARVs available. She has bounced back in the most incredible of ways. She is attending school again. She isn’t just surviving, she is thriving…because of the care of her association members and the support of the Circle of Love.
We thank you, “Cecilia” thanks you. It is not always easy to see how we make a difference but the fact that “Cecilia” is back at school and flourishing is because of you and the Circle of Love.
Greetings dear supporters of Circle of Love,
This September, Northern Cameroon was adversely affected by heavy flooding throughout the Logone and Shari division, including the communities where EFA supports HIV-affected families. The flooding and excess standing water has helped to breed many mosquito in an already malaria-endemic zone, and resulted in many cases of cholera.
For an HIV-positive person, it is extremely important to protect oneself from opportunistic infections, especially malaria and cholera. Through Circle of Love, EFA helps HIV-positive individuals to access malaria prevention and treatment, as well as clean drinking water to prevent cholera.
We have added a new level of support to this project: $20 -- so that you can directly and immediately help EFA's network prevent opportunistic infections.
Many thanks for your generous support!
On est ensemble! (We are together!)
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