During September 2010 we received 2 separate requests from organisations in Zambia, both working around supporting children in vulnerable circumstances including those living with HIV/AIDS. The requests were to adapt certain aspects of the My Living Positively Handbook for use by Zambian children, to reprint 1000 of these books and distribute them to children living with HIV/AIDS in various districts in Zambia. These 2 requests were very exciting for us, as it is evident that My Living Positively books are a great support and treatment literacy resource that extends into the boundaries of Southern Africa. We are currently working with these organisations to fulfill their requests and we will be very excited to hear about how useful the children and their families found the book.
As part of our work around HIV/AIDS disclosure with children and caregivers, we were confronted with a case of parent requesting advice on how to disclose the child’s as well as the parent’s HIV status to the child. The child is about 11 years old, HIV-positive and has been receiving ARV treatment (antiretroviral) for a long time. The child’s mother is also HIV-positive and on treatment and has never spoke openly about either of them being HIV-positive. The mother felt that it was the right time to speak to her child; however she wasn’t really sure how to do this, and she therefore sought help from the CRC. We referred the mother to an organisation, Zoé Life, who specializes in providing psychosocial support to children living with HIV/AIDS. Zoé Life reported that they have been working closely with the mother and her child, assisting them through the disclosure process. It is encouraging that parents/caregivers are willing to disclose to their children.
The case in point raised a concern however that in South Africa much of the advocacy and work on treatment, care and support has been directed to people accessing treatment through the public health sector and very rightly so. South Africa has HIV support groups for children, adults and caregivers in most public health care settings. The situation is very different for people accessing treatment in the private health sector, as in the case of this mother and her child. There is very little or no support mechanisms in place, for people and children living with HIV/AIDS in private health care settings. It has started us to question how can we bridge the divide and ensure that anybody accessing treatment in public and private health care systems can readily make use of the support and services available to them.
During October we had planned to have reprinted our English Handbooks, however we have not met this target due to the very intense nature of work that that has swept over us. We have put plans in place to ensure the reprinting happens in early 2011.
During the second quarter of 2010, South Africa embarked on a mass campaign providing health care provider initiated HIV-testing to all South Africans, as part of a larger health screening campaign. We are very excited about the possibilities of getting more people and children tested for HIV and onto treatment, care and support. We are at the same time advocating for our systems to support and respond to the growing numbers of people who will be going through the health care system.
It is truly an exciting time for South Africa in terms of the HIV epidemic. We are now moving full-steam ahead to turn the tide!