Friday, September 8, 2017

On the Side of an Orphan

A community health worker examines a child
It began with the loss of the father to a road accident and the mother to post- natal complications three months after her birth.  While, Bunmi (not her real name) gained a new mother and caregiver in her Aunt, Mrs. Oloye, there was still more to come for the toddler.   During a door-to-door HIV Testing and Counselling campaign, organized by the USAID-supported Local Partners for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (LOPIN), Bunmi was found to be HIV+.
Terrified and sad by the test report, Mrs. Oloye was, at the same time relieved that she had found an explanation for her niece’s worsening health condition.  Prior to the diagnosis Bunmi was sickly and sluggish and the aunt a local herb (Agbo) seller was at her wits end over the child’s steady health decline.

Bunmi was placed on antiretroviral (HIV) treatment immediately and the treatment has been beneficial. “Since Bunmi started treatment, she has become agile and well.  She attends clinic monthly and we diligently give her the HIV treatment drugs every morning”, Oloye commented. 

A girl leans against a tree in the village of Usoma — CDC photo
A girl leans against a tree in the village of Usoma — CDC photo
Now 9 years old, Bunmi has not been told her HIV+ status, but Oloye, her husband and their two children are aware of Bunmi’s HIV status.  This would have to be explained to her at some point in the future.  For the present, Bunmi has been told not to play with/share sharp objects to prevent passing the virus to others.

Bunmi is one of the 600,000 men, women, and children currently on HIV treatment in Nigeria, with support of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) working through USAID, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Walter Reed Program as well numerous Implementing Partners.

For Bunmi and her adoptive family, it has been relatively easy adhering to the strict HIV treatment regime, and they have not suffered any HIV-associated stigma or discrimination.   Attesting to this Oloye says: “the whole family is aware of Bunmi’s HIV+ status and they are very supportive.  Bunmi is taken to hospital appointments by her cousins”. 
USAID’s OVC programming aims to improve the health and well-being of children living with and affected by HIV, strengthening communities as they work towards an AIDS-free Generation. Photo credit:Tash McCarroll/USAID
The article is also published on medium

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