The HIV statistics in Africa are profound. Consider these facts:
- To date, 17 million Africans have died of AIDS.
- 25 million Africans (many children) are infected with the HIV virus.
- 13 million African children are already orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
The spread of HIV in Africa can easily be prevented through education, and HIV can be treated with modern medications, so long as those drugs are available and administered. Those infected by HIV are often plagued by opportunistic infections, which prey upon a body's weak immune system. In the United States and in other countries, HIV infected patients receive medications called anti-retroviral drugs, which prevent or slow the progression of those potentially fatal infections.
At the Bishop Asili Hospital, health care practitioners faced a two prong challenge in their quest to access and administer anti-retroviral medications:
Anti-retroviral therapy is only appropriate for patients with HIV viral load counts under a particular medically-designated threshold, but the hospital previously had no way to determine a patient's viral load, leaving health care providers helpless.
The Just Like My Child Foundation arranged to have a CD-4 Analyzer - the essential piece of laboratory equipment used to measure viral load DONATED by the manufacturer, Becton-Dickinson, to the hospital. This equipment generally costs $150,000! We sealed the deal on World AIDS Day, after sitting with dozens of HIV infected mothers and fathers who are desperate for this equipment.
The hospital is just now beginning to treat HIV-infected patients with anti-retroviral medications, but there is still much further to go. We will persevere until every HIV-infected mother and child is tested and treated.