World AIDS Day 1st  December 2022

World AIDS Day 1st  December 2022

Carmel Lawry is providing organisational and administrative support and mentoring for the Outreach Program at Holy Family Care Centre in Limpopo, South Africa. Carmel is a qualified and experienced nurse and has been connected with HFCC since 2011, previously providing health care mentoring. Below Carmel shares encouraging statistics and important reminders about HIV and AIDS.

HIV and AIDS – South Africa

South Africa has been working tirelessly in helping people living with HIV/Aids and reducing the numbers through access to antiretroviral treatment, prevention education, testing, counselling and a specific program for pregnant women with HIV. All this has been successful in reducing the HIV infection rates.

Statistics show that newly infected children (0-14yrs) in 2021 was 10,000 compared to 63,000 in 2007. Young people (15-24yrs) in 2021 was 67,00 compared to 180,000 in 2007. Overall the number of children in South Africa living with HIV in 2021 is 270,000 50,000 less than in 2014.

Despite the many advances there is still a struggle to eliminate the stigma associated with HIV infection and the resultant discrimination. There are still people with limited knowledge of the facts about how to protect themselves and others.

Successful treatment of pregnant women living with HIV (estimated 1 in 3 pregnant women) has been the cornerstone of reducing vertical transmission of HIV in South Africa. Studies indicate this group  is at the highest risk of becoming lost from care programs at a critical point in their treatment journey and needs to be addressed.

HIV and AIDS – Holy Family Care Centre

Holy Family Care Centre celebrated its 20th year in August this year. Holy family Care Centre was initially established to care for mothers and children dying from HIV/Aids when no treatment was available. The home continues to care for all vulnerable children especially those living with HIV/Aids.

Children who come to us living with HIV/Aids are usually very sick, sometimes with co-infections such as tuberculosis and have defaulted from their antiretroviral treatment. They require ongoing love and care, daily treatment and a supplemented diet.  Defaulting their antiretroviral treatment is a the biggest problem as the children are at risk of rejection of the treatment regimens available. If the child is able to tolerate the treatment  we will see them begin to thrive over a 12 month period.

Since 2010 the number of children living with HIV/Aids admitted to Holy Family Care Centre for urgent care has halved. We currently have 12 children in our care needing daily treatment. Unfortunately there are a few that regardless of treatment will not live long lives as intervention was too late. This is the sad reality and all efforts are needed to continue to educate adults in protecting and caring for their children.

World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public that HIV has not gone away and that collectively, there is the need to continue to increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education to maintain and achieve a reduction in infection rates.

The World Bank Data – UNAIDS estimates 2021
Clouse, K., Malope-Kgokong, B., Bor, J. et al. The South African National HIV Pregnancy Cohort: evaluating continuity of care among women living with HIV. BMC Public Health 20, 1662 (2020).