Forgotten Voices' Mission:

"Demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Thoughts on New ARV Report

Forgotten Voices has an AIDS orphan care partnership with with a rural AIDS clinic that is serving about 60 people currently on ARVs in Zimbabwe. We hope this number rises in 2008. If given proper access and care with ARVs, parents with AIDS are often able to live longer. By living longer, parents are able to continue parenting their children AND help local community leaders determine what should happen with their kids when they pass away. Children are most vulnerable when a parent suddenly dies, leaving them with few rights, no care plan, and typically few resources to survive.

With ARVs, the parents of children are given a chance for devising these plans and passing along wisdom and family history. Despite these assets, ARVs are limited in countries like Zimbabwe. In addition to the high costs to patients, political and economic volatility adds to their limitations to the people that need them most. In addition, ARVs from Western countries are often political tools and given to governments that have a track record of disseminating health care fairly. Zimbabwe fails in the eyes of many countries. Yet, not entirely.

In the summer of 2007, the USA announced a $15+ million ARV program for Zimbabwe. This has already had a tremendous impact on the state of ARV availability.

Please read the information below. Education is KEY to understanding how to best care for our partners and vital to our appropriate response.

I hope this new information is true and that it helps give rise to access. Currently, according to most reliable published reports, access to ARVs is limited to just 6% of the population.

All the best,

From Kaiser Daily: February 13, 2008

HIV-Positive People Seeking No-Cost Antiretrovirals in Zimbabwe To Increase Following Procurement of T Cell Tests, AIDS Council Says

The number of people living with HIV/AIDS seeking access to no-cost antiretroviral drugs in Zimbabwe likely will increase following the procurement of tests that count CD4+ T cells, Zimbabwe's National AIDS Council said recently, the Herald/ reports.

The tests were purchased with support from the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and distributed last week by NAC to 13 districts in the country, including Binga and Bulilima in the Matabeleland province. The test counts an HIV-positive person's number of T cells, determining the progression of the virus. In Zimbabwe, an HIV-positive person can obtain access to no-cost antiretrovirals only if his or her T cell count is below 200 cells per cubic milliliter of blood. According to the Herald/, procurement of the machines will increase the number of people tested and subsequently increase the number of people who qualify for no-cost treatment.

NAC board member Delma Lupepe said that in the past, there were only five districts in the country that provided no-cost antiretrovirals. He added that the "recent procurement of 13 [T cell] count machines will see all the 22 identified Global Fund sites rolling out" antiretrovirals. Zimbabwe's Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa said that people living with HIV/AIDS "no longer need to travel long distance to undergo [T cell] count testing. We have brought [HIV-positive people] the drugs, equipment, as well as manpower." He added that the Global Fund is assisting most physicians in district hospitals with salary increases and retention fees. Parirenyatwa said he hopes the program aimed at assisting health professionals financially will expand to all districts in the country to increase retention rates (Herald/, 2/11).

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