It depletes household income, and families often have to cut spending on school fees to pay for medication.
What recent studies show
AIDS has created an explosion of TB in many countries, with many people affected by both illnesses. A recent study in sub-Saharan Africa also suggests that people with HIV are twice as likely to catch malaria than those without. The death, sickness and absenteeism caused by these illnesses affects everyone, farmers, factory workers, teachers, students and doctors. Economic growth suffers as a result. At the same time, demand for public spending on AIDS treatment rises, diverting limited resources from other health care needs.
AIDS-related deaths in Africa have orphaned an estimated 11.4 million children and nearly 90% of HIV-positive children live in Sub-Saharan Africa. New infections are mainly among women and young people, the gender inequality they experience means women are affected the worst.
How AMREF is tackling HIV
AMREF works with local communities, local health councils and other networks to stop new infections of HIV and minimise its impact on people already infected. Key to prevention and treatment is people’s ‘status awareness’, so we encourage voluntary counselling and testing for those who think they might be at risk.
We also raise awareness about how to prevent parent-to-child transmission, and work to reduce the stigma and gender-based discrimination that are often directed at those who are HIV-positive. Besides prevention, AMREF has supported community-based initiatives to improve access to treatment, care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS and/or infected with TB.
In South Africa, for example, where HIV and drug-resistant TB rates are high, many people prefer to consult traditional healers rather than a doctor. In response we have trained more than 100 healers in counselling skills and developed their expertise on HIV/AIDS. The South African Department of Health is now equipping the healers with home-based care kits so they can reach clients at home.
Communities should be central
This demonstrates our belief that communities should be central to the organisation and delivery of local health services. It also shows our commitment to helping community groups and local voluntary organisations build and use the skills and resources they already have to respond to the HIV/AIDS crisis.