Beyond treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, … and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead (James 2:14-17)

There is no doubt that the universal effort to eradicate HIV/AIDS is an ongoing and persistent one. It has been reported that since the beginning of the epidemic, almost 78 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 39 million people have died of HIV. Globally, 35.0 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2013. An estimated 0.8% of adults aged 15–49 years worldwide are living with HIV, although the burden of the epidemic continues to vary considerably between countries and regions. Sub-Saharan Africa remains most severely affected, with nearly 1 in every 20 adults living with HIV and accounting for nearly 71% of the people living with HIV worldwide.

The world’s strategy in the intervention of such a huge health challenge should go beyond short term treatment, cure and prevention on those affected; it should also integrate the needs of both patients and care-givers in relation to mutual communal affection.
Quite often, pathological intervention neglects the indispensability for a long term holistic ‘body-soul’ recovery process in which the needs, wants, and positions of those affected are not taken into cognizance. “Treatments and cures won’t bring a deceased parent back to life; the long-term effects of the disease will still be felt,” said John Miller, Director of the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS. “We must better integrate the needs of children, adolescents and those who care for them into regional and national plans, and provide help to ensure optimal child and adolescent development.” The long term process of integration and recovery knits together the entire spectrum of psychosocial, physical, economic, and spiritual dimensions of HIV-positive people and their communities.

Children are the most vulnerable and impacted by HIV/AIDS. They are unable to advocate for themselves, hence the need to call for proper policies and programs. A recent report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS UNAIDS), has prompted a new call to action with eight critical points. They are:
• Scale-up access to prevention -of-mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services
• Scale-up pediatric testing (early infant diagnosis)
• Increase treatment access and reduce loss to follow-up
• Provide HIV-sensitive social protection services
• Invest in the early development of children affected by HIV
• Strengthen linkages between child protection and HIV services
• Intensify HIV prevention and treatment for adolescents
• Strengthen support for primary caregivers and community-level care providers

These are the steps that are needed to provide children, adolescents and care-givers with a holistic healing and recovery process.

-Charles Kwuleum

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