May 18, 2020

Kids with HIV in Lockdown.

Kannaga springs into action
Kannaga springs into action

The world’s biggest ever lockdown was announced by India at four hours’ notice. Nothing was allowed on the road and our immediate concern was for children with HIV who were running out of life saving tablets. Jai, aged 3, his mother and father are all HIV Positive. His father is sick with TB as well. The family had recently moved two Districts away to hide their HIV status.

All the District borders were sealed and we knew that Jai’s tablets were running out. Our volunteer Kannaga sprung into action, and defying check-posts collected all the family’s tablets. She was told it was impossible, but even at the height of the lockdown her personality and determination won through. She got permits to cross two District boundaries to deliver her precious consignment.

When lockdown was announced, HIV networks successfully lobbied for tablets to be available at all major health centres, with two month’s supply given on each visit. In the six districts where we work volunteers contacted guardians by phone to remind about tablets, advise about coronavirus and offer support. Many were single mothers without family backing or those caring for orphaned children.

In the first round we contacted 713 personally or by phone and ensured tablet supply, and we home delivered tablets for 103 children. We could not immediately contact 206 children: this information gap highlights an urgent need to get two telephone numbers for each child.

Due to travel restrictions and no public transport we are still unsure about 50 children. Some restrictions have now been lifted, so we work hard to ensure uninterrupted drug supply, repeat drugs to children on special treatment, essential testing and management of complications.

We made sure guardians on treatment obtained it. 358 HIV positive children in need were supplied with extra food, clothing and other essentials. In addition 262 widows, women who have not disclosed their status or those without transport have been assisted to receive their medication.

Since February much of the routine work with children and adolescents has had to be put on hold. After lockdown was announced, the government initiated food security measures, but only for those registered as being below the poverty line. Many of the Tribal people, Dalits and other marginalised families we work with were missed from the list or had been denied registration under these schemes.

On the basis of strong requests, pressure and relaxation of formalities in this emergency, the authorities have started to register these families. In the meantime we have distributed emergency rations to over 1000 families using funds from Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiative, India’s biggest charity.

Fortunately, nearly all people living with HIV are registered for the usual government schemes and additional ones specifically for PLHIV. This is because all the districts where we work have strong PLHIV associations constantly lobbying for rights and entitlements. Arogya Agam has supported, facilitated and promoted dozens of such organisations over the past 25 years and it has really paid off!

I want to thank you for all your support. These are difficult times for nearly everybody but more difficult for some than for others. We know all about donor fatigue, thanks or staying with us and please stay safe and well.

Feb 10, 2020

Thank you for your support in 2019

Vignesh is now the picture of health
Vignesh is now the picture of health

Vignesh’s mother was taking medicines for HIV without telling anyone, when he became ill she secretly brought him to the clinic and he tested positive for HIV. His mother was scared of Vignesh’s father who could get violent when drunk so she never mentioned anything about HIV. Even though Vignesh was often ill she was scared to take him for treatment, what if someone found out? Strangely it was Muthusamy, her husband who saved the day. He tested HIV positive during eye surgery and was counselled by one of our volunteers who knew Vignesh. Now all are on treatment and Muthusamu drinks less and now Vignesh is the picture of health.

Thank you all for your amazing donations in 2019. They have all contributed to our adolescent and young adult’s HIV programmes.

Recently we have counselled adolescents and young adults with HIV (300 men and boys, 266 women and girls) on the importance of treatment and status disclosure before marriage. Many young people living with HIV felt unsure about their options when it came to marriage. After our counselling most agreed that it would be best for them to disclose their HIV status to their partner before marriage and many thought it safest to marry a partner with HIV.

We have counselled over 200 parents and guardians on the importance of discussing their ward’s HIV status. 130 have already done this and none of the children reacted very badly although some complained of not being told earlier.

Our volunteers followed up 961 children and adolescents and 929 are taking treatment. Of these, 107 have newly started, restarted or increased regular treatment. We are still trying to convince 42 adolescents or guardians. Previously many children with HIV died, this year is the lowest ever, it is sad but only six children have died. This would have been many more without our intervention and your help.

Thanks again for your support, and a special thanks to our monthly donors.

With best wishes,

John Dalton

Dec 23, 2019

How you are helping Yeswanth to attain fame and glory!

Helping Yeswanth to achieve fame and glory!
Helping Yeswanth to achieve fame and glory!

Thanks for your support. Perhaps someone you know can help us with our year end target at Anyhow please read Yeswanth’s story.

Yeswanth slipped through the net. His father had run off and his mum was so scared of the ‘Aids’ label that she took him to live with his granny in another District. We don’t see many four year olds with HIV these days so our volunteers took extra effort and phoned their counterparts in Sivaganga District who eventually tracked them down. Now they are both on treatment. His granny is sure that Yeswanth can now live up to his name which means ‘one who attains fame and glory’!

With your help we have reached $8000 of our 'giving season'  target of $10000. There were 60 donations on Global Giving's 'Giving Tuesday' on December 3rd and our share of the bonus was $1727. Not only that, we have 15 new donors and two more have signed up for a monthly donation, Global Giving matches the 4th month's donation 100%.

Through your generous donations we have enrolled 951 children with HIV in the six districts in South India where we work. We make sure they take their treatment, help them to stay at school, sort out problems with neighbours and help them to get government benefits. There are still some like Yeswanth who we can’t find or are refusing treatment, but we are not giving up on them!

We have counselled over 200 parents and guardians on the need to discuss HIV with their younger wards, this is important because all the research suggests that full disclosure by age 13 is best and helps to stop children from going into denial and rebelling against treatment when they get older.
We have discussed marriage with adolescents and young people with HIV on the pros and cons of marrying another HIV positive person and the need to disclose their status and how. We dialogue with government counsellors on the need to take up work with adolescents.

Thanks to all of you, and to those who have helped in December, remember there are still some days to go for us to reach the target. Please spread the word!

With very best wishes for Christmas and the new year,


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