INMED's CARE For Kids Initiative
The goal of INMED's CARE for KIDS to protect newborn infants from becoming infected with HIV. Of all the strategies for stopping the HIV epidemic (education, testing and counseling, HIV treatment), protecting infants is one of the most pressing, effective and also deficient.
| TARGET COMMUNITY: MSELENI, SOUTH AFRICA
Mseleni is a community of 95,000 in the northeastern corner of South Africa, near Mozambique. Mseleni is part of the KwaZulu-Natal region, home to arguably the highest concentration of HIV in the entire world:
The high rates of HIV among pregnant women and babies in Mseleni is especially is due to:
- 39 of every 100 people are HIV infected
- 33 of every 100 pregnant women are HIV infected
- 30-40 of every 100 newborn babies are HIV infected
- 500-1,000 children die from AIDS each year
- AIDS is the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5 years (Kaiser Foundation, 2005)
- Lack of education. Many women of Mseleni still do not understand how to protect themselves from contracting HIV
- Negative stereotypes. In many parts of Mseleni, HIV positive people are shunned neglected or ostracized by their own families or communities. This prevents women from wanting themselves or their babies to be tested.
- Poor access to healthcare. Mseleni is geographically vast. For some persons, access to medical care is a two-day walk. As a result, HIV counseling, testing and treatment is greatly curtailed.
To protect newborn infants in Mseleni from becoming HIV infected INMED has partnered in South Africa with:
In addition, INMED has also built a strong relationship with the University of Kansas Department of Infectious Disease, under the direction of Daniel Hinthorn, MD, to advise in the medical care aspects of CARE for Kids.
- Mseleni Hospital, lead by Dr. Victor Fredlund, a medical missionary with SIM, who was awarded South Africa's 2003 Rural Doctor of the Year
- The Lulisandla Kumntwana Project, a local NGO lead by Rachel Fredlund that assists foster families caring for AIDS orphans and provides educational HIV prevention programs for schools
- A collation of Mseleni churches associated with SIM
| OBJECTIVES OF CARE FOR KIDS
INMED's aim is to reduce the burden of illness related to HIV in Mseleni through:
- Providing INMED healthcare personnel to support the efforts of Mseleni Hospital and the Lulisandla Kumntwana Project
- Training INMED healthcare personnel in the diverse skills necessary to combat HIV disease in this low-resource community.
HIV-positive kids in Mseleni, South Africa
| METHODS OF INMED CARE FOR KIDS
To this end, INMED provides a limited number of scholarships to support INMED Certificate students who serve at Mseleni Hospital. Interested students should contact the INMED office in this regard. Students, under supervision, will participate in the full range of HIV-related services offered via Mseleni Hospital. These may include data gathering, health education, testing and counseling, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, medication treatment, management of HIV complications, and nutritional and social support service.
| BACKGROUND: THE GLOBAL HIV CRISIS
HIV/AIDS is a growing global crisis. Though deaths from HIV/AIDS in wealthier nations have declined due to effective therapies, the number of persons with HIV/AIDS continues to climb worldwide. In 2006 alone, over 40 million people were known to be HIV-positive and over 4 million people died of AIDS (Avert).
HIV positive kids
| HIV/AIDS: A DISEASE OF POVERTY
95 percent of all the HIV infected people in the world live in a developing nation. The HIV/AIDS crisis is most acute in Sub-Saharan Africa. This region has only 10 percent of the world's people, but 64 percent of the world's HIV-infected people. In six sub-Saharan nations greater than one person in five has HIV/AIDS:
As a result of HIV deaths, life expectancies in many African nations have diminished from the 60s to less than 40 years, and some 15 million children have been orphaned by HIV infection.
- Swaziland 38.8%
- Botswana 37.3%
- Lesotho 28.9%
- Zimbabwe 24.6%
- South Africa 21.5%
- Namibia 21.3%
Please invest take a few moments to view this brief video regarding infants and HIV infection.
Many people falsely assume that HIV/AIDS is primarily a disease of adults. But tragically, the AIDS crisis is making a devastating impact on the lives of children. Consider first the sheer numbers of children infected with HIV:
HIV infection in infants and children is more aggressive than in adults since their immune systems are relatively immature. One-third of all infants born with HIV will die during the first year of life, more than half will die during their second year, and almost all will die before reaching age 5. (Newell, M-L, et al, 2004).
- In 2006, 2.3 million children around the world were living with HIV
- Sub-Saharan Africa is home to about 90 percent of all HIV-infected children
- During 2006 over half a million children became newly infected with HIV
- Projections suggest that by 2010 over 1 million children will have died from AIDS worldwide (UNICEF).
Numbers of people with HIV/AIDS
| HOW DO CHILDREN BECOME HIV INFECTED?
Around 90 percent of all HIV-infected children acquired the disease from their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, at birth or through breastfeeding. This is called mother-to-child-transmission (MTCT). The risk of an infant acquiring HIV from the HIV-positive mother is about 20 percent during pregnancy and delivery. The risk climbs to about 40 percent if she then breast feeds her infant. Unfortunately, breastfeeding is usually the only option available for infant nutrition.
| PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM HIV
Mother to Child Transmission of HIV
The key to protecting children from HIV infection is to prevent them from acquiring infection at birth and through breastfeeding. The research-proven components to preventing MTCT are these:
These interventions can reduce the risk of MTCT from 35-45 percent to less than 2 percent (WHO, 2006), saving precious lives and alleviating enormous human suffering.
- Voluntary testing of all pregnant women for HIV
- Daily HIV medication for those who are HIV positive beginning at 28 weeks into their pregnancy
- HIV medication for the newborn at the time of delivery
- A safe alternative to breast feeding
Sadly, these prevention components are almost entirely unavailable. As of 2005 only about 9 percent of pregnant women in poorer nations had access to any of them (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, 2006). The reasons most often cited include:
- Women are afraid of discrimination if they are tested
- HIV medication is frequently unavailable
- Few health care workers are trained in how to protect infants from HIV
- Health services that are already overwhelmed with other concerns like malnutrition, pneumonia and vaccination
The HIV crisis in South Africa has not doomed the nation, as some have declared. INMED is proud to partner with Mseleni Hospital and the Lulisandla Kumntwana Project, giving hope to this particularly vulnerable community and providing a model for the entire world of the power of skill and persistence brought to bear against a grave challenge.