Community work is one of the most important parts of identifying people living with HIV and helping them get on ART and stay on treatment. We are continually present in the community to ensure our patients are supported and we can reach out to new audiences.
Part of this work involves community testing events (Community Outreaches) where we provide HIV awareness, testing and access to treatment. Once someone tests as HIV+ getting them on treatment isnt always straight forward and our staff and community volunteers can experience barriers which prevent people accessing care. This was the case for 10 year old Owen.
Owen comes from a family of 2. He had a younger brother who passed away when he was small. Owen's mother was identified as HIV+ during antenatal visits but didn't seek treatment and therefore Owen was born with HIV.
Owen had previously been tested twice for HIV but his mother suffers with alcohol abuse issues and had never sought treatment for him. After TTF tested Owen she agreed to enrol Owen onto treatment. However during our follow up process it was found Owen had not accessed HIV services. Owen's mother had travelled out of town, leaving him in the care of his grandmother but had not informed anyone of his status.
Owen's grandmother was reluctant to start him on treatment without the mothers consent. Our community health volunteers worked with the grandmother to educate her on HIV, and provide health advice and support which would benefit the child. She talked about how he was always sick, so our health volunteers talked about the benefits of treatment, helping her to understand the importance of ART and immediate access to treatment.
After much support and engagement Owen is now on treatment and doing very well. We will continue to monitor his progress and provide the community support the family needs to ensure Owen can live a long, healthy life. Work at the TTF Clinic involves so many people and we continue to be grateful to all of those who help change lives and make our work possible.