Portrait of an African AIDS Caregiver

AIDS FIRST APPEARED IN AFRICA in 1982. Today over twenty-two million people in Sub-Saharan Africa live with HIV or AIDS.  While holding 24% of the global health burden, Africa has access to only 3% of the world’s health workforce, creating a lack of doctors, medicine, and facilities.

Numbers can be daunting, but it is encouraging to see how changes in science and technology have brought about possibilities for effective treatments.  Likewise, more organizations and advocacy groups have stepped forward to care for people living with AIDS and provide education about the disease.

Despite the positive changes in treatment and awareness, many cultures still hold a stigma and shame with AIDS, meaning that those infected with the disease are often ostracized from their community and denied the resources they need to live. AIDS not only causes physical pain and suffering, but also has an emotional impact, as many people are left to suffer and die alone.

Fortunately, there are thousands of individuals who have chosen to set aside these cultural views and give care to people living with AIDS.

From providing food and bandaging sores to helping with laundry and watching children, these caregivers aren’t filling just the medical need, but they are providing emotional support as well. They aren’t foreigners who have traveled thousands of miles; instead they are individuals from that community – neighbors, mothers, fathers.

It is a way to remind someone with AIDS that they are valued and they are not alone.

World Vision is one of the organizations addressing this problem.  Through World Vision’s caregiver kit program, over 77,000 AIDS caregivers have been provided with resources and training, equipping them to offer in-home care for mothers and children in their communities impacted by AIDS.

Two other organization doing wonderful work in this area are CARE and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

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