HELPING FAMILIES SUPPORT THEIR VULNERABLE CHILDREN
VULNERABLE CHILDREN HAVE COMPLEX NEEDS REQUIRING MULTIPLE INTERVENTIONS - YOUR DONATIONS MAKE THIS WORK POSSIBLE
For many children at the TTF Clinic their experience of HIV is linked to death. Many have lost one or both of their parents because they were born at a time when HIV treatment wasn't readily available and their parents may not have accessed testing or treatment. This experience of HIV and death can lead to fear of HIV and fear of HIV treatment.
Clara wasn't diagnosed until the age of 10 when one of our volunteers working in the community encountered her mother who was very ill.
Clara was born with HIV, she has no memory of her father who left when she was very small. Her mother suffered with alcohol dependency and would often go missing for prolonged periods of time leaving Clara and her younger siblings with their grandmother.
When Clara and her family were brought to the TTF Clinic, Clara's mother was already very sick with TB. Sadly not long after being diagnosed as HIV+ she passed away.
For her mother treatment came too late but for Clara there was still hope.
Clara was told her mother had died of HIV, but at age 10 made no connection between her mothers status and the medication she was taking from TTF. Her grandmother had tried to tell Clara she was HIV+ but without the right support this message didn't sink in. In 2016 TTF counselors recommended that Clara's Grandmother attend a program to support her in sharing with Clara her HIV status. The program (Mbuya Daisy) is designed to support parents and care givers in sharing their child's status so that the children can start to learn more about HIV and be able to talk openly about HIV, ensuring the right support systems as they grow up.
In Zambia, adolescents as young as 12/13 are often entrusted with large responsibilities of taking care of themselves, therefore, after disclosure Clara's Grandmother entrusted Clara, now aged 14, to take her medication correctly. Whilst Clara understood she was HIV+ her late access to treatment meant she was slightly developmentally delayed and without constant supervision she wasn't able to take the medication at the same time everyday.
WITHOUT THE RIGHT SUPERVISION CLARA QUICKLY DEFAULTED ON HER HIV TREATMENT, AND HER BODY SOON STARTED REJECTING THE DRUGS.
Clara began to miss her appointments, or turn up late to her appointments. Her absence was raised to the TTF social work team and after one appointment her bloodwork confirmed what the team had suspected.
Without the right supervision Clara quickly defaulted on her treatment plan, leading her body to reject the HIV treatment and for the virus to multiply within her body.
By taking medication at the same time every day you can suppress the virus within your body to undetectable levels - meaning excellent health. When the virus multiplies it begins to attack the immune system and puts patients at risk of opportunistic infections which can become fatal.
TTF staff worked together to enroll her in a children's support group where she could gain more knowledge of HIV alongside building a network of peers for emotional support. She was put into our nutrition program to help ensure she was getting the right diet and enough food to ensure she could take her medication correctly.
Finally, Clara was assigned a full time counselor who met with her weekly and then fortnightly to support her. We identified a family member, her elder cousin, to be her treatment supporter at home to ensure she was taking her medication correctly.
After a lot of interventions and time, Clara is now virally suppressed, meaning the virus is undetectable within her body and she is healthy. None of this would have been possible without you - by donating you help us to support the most vulnerable children be healthy.