December 1st is World AIDS Day.....
So we thought we would take this opportunity to share with you how St. Vincent's is making an impact on the fight against HIV and AIDS in Kibera, where the HIV prevalence is estimated at 15 percent, more than double the national prevalence of 6.3 percent.
Because children living with HIV need proper health care, medication and nutrition, each year St. Vincent's supports HIV testing of children newly admitted into our Nursery School Baby Class (approximately 30 children annually), following parent/guardian consent. Testing is conducted each Winter by qualified providers at a partner institution, called Lea Toto. For those children that are HIV-positive, an appropriate food and medicine regime is determined and agreed upon with parents and guardians to ensure adherence.
This all may sound simple -- but in reality -- it's actually quite complex. Because of the stigma and discrimination that is still associated with HIV and AIDS, many parents are resistant to having their children tested - as their child's status will be a reflection of their own status, which they may not know or be scared to disclose. To overcome this reluctance, St. Vincent's initiates discussions with parents starting at the beginning of the school year, to encourage them to allow their child to be tested so that the child can receive the appropriate care and support. This requires patience and persistence, as discussions take place gradually over a period of time so that parents can come to understand the importance of testing not only for their children, but for themselves too, in a way that is comfortable for them.
Almost always, St. Vincent's is successful in demonstrating to parents -- men and women both -- the importance of knowing their status. As a result, nearly all Baby Class children participate in the testing campaign each year, with those found to be positive receiving the attention they need to stay healthy. St. Vincent's effectiveness is attributed to the organization's role as a trusted resource in the community that is committed to promoting the wellbeing of vulnerable children as its first priority.