Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Children's HIV Intervention Program in Swaziland

Sorry I have not put anything out for a while. The holidays are over and we are back in full swing! The CHIPS program has started and is going well. We are concentrating now in the community of Maphiveni. As we work out all the procedures and protocols. we'll begin expanding into neighboring communities. Since our start up in December, we have taken 141 people, (children and caregivers) to be tested for HIV. Eighty-four of the 141 are children; the remaining are caregivers. Twenty-eight of the caregivers tested positive and nine of the children tested positive. We have been pleasantly surprised at the low number of positive children so far. The highest percentage of HIV+ people here in Swaziland are between the ages of 25-45. We believe it is very important to make HIV treatment for these caregivers accessible so that they live healthy and productive lives to be able to take care of the children under their care.

There is one little boy that touched my heart last week with his big swollen belly (ascites). He is very sick and his CD4 count is very low, which means that his immune system is very weak and he needs to start on treatment as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the machine to check the chemistries (blood work that shows kidney and liver function) has been broken for a month now. They are very hesitant to start them on treatment without this blood work. We have been transporting blood samples back to the city of Mbabane, where the blood can be tested.

I brought some samples in on Friday afternoon, to find out that they did not accept samples after noon on Fridays. I thought, oh, no, we do not need any delays for this little one. We had already drawn his blood the week before and the results got lost in the system, so we had to re-draw them and we had to stick him twice this time. All I could think was, surely we will not have to do it again! I took the blood to the private clinic lab and spoke to the manager, who I know from my work with the Breast Cancer Network. It just so happened that her husband is the one that is working on the machine in the hospital where we take them for treatment. She said he should have it working by next week. She also said that she would run the tests for us without charge and the results would be ready in one hour! I wanted to shout, “Praise the Lord!” God is good and He is in control, even when we feel very out of control!

I sent the results back down over the weekend and the boy, along with several others, should be starting on treatment soon! Please keep this program in your prayers, as we move forward. We are praying for God’s divine wisdom and guidance!

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