Despite the many interventions to prevent mothers transmitting the HIV virus to their babies, pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV continue to fall out of care. This is especially true in Sub- Saharan Africa where new HIV infection among children is still prevalent. According to UNAIDS, 150,000 children were infected with HIV in 2019 and almost 90% of these live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Factors like poverty, poor health care systems, cultural practices and poor adherence to treatment contribute to new HIV infections especially among children from vulnerable households. Six months old Sydney Chala is a beneficiary of TTF's palliative care and nutrition support programs.
Little Sydney has defied the odds, from being exposed to HIV, being malnourished, experiencing the worst form of stigma and discrimination, to losing his parents and his home.
Having lost his father even before he was born, Sydney and his mother first came to TTF when he was barely three months old. They were identified in the community by one of TTF's community health workers. His mother was very ill and extremely malnourished. She had stopped taking her ARV medication for over three years. Due to her condition, she was not able to breastfeed Sydney properly and he too became severely malnourished.
Due to the severity of their condition, both mother and child were hospitalized and placed on the TTF palliative care and nutrition support program, providing support towards medical and nutritional requirements. The hospitalization presented a new challenge as no relative was willing to help nurse mother and baby apart from Sydney’s thirteen year old sister, a child herself. TTF stepped in and hired two adult caregivers to nurse the two of them. After two months in hospital Sydney’s health improved greatly and he was discharged. His HIV test results showed that Sydney was HIV negative. TTF continued to provide nutritional support not only for Sydney but his siblings as well.
Everything seemed to be going well for Sydney, until one fateful morning, his mother succumbed to the illness, leaving Sydney and his siblings orphaned. Sadly baby Sydney faced stigma and rejection from his mother’s surviving relatives, saying they could not look after a sick baby, despite being told that his HIV test results came out negative. They refused to take baby Sydney in.
But, as they say every dark cloud, has a silver lining. Violet Tembo, a TTF community health worker came through for little Sydney and took both Sydney and his 3 siblings in, while waiting to find a permanent place for them.
At six, Sydney is today a healthy, energetic, and happy baby. TTF is grateful to Violet and her family for stepping in and taking care of Sydney and his siblings while we work towards securing a safe permanent place for them.
Your support, can help more vulnerable children like Sydney live a healthy life. Donate and give the gift of health