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13.05.2008 Health

HIV infected children receive free ARTs

By dailyEXPRESS
HIV infected children receive free ARTs


About a hundred HIV infected children have started receiving free supplies of antiretroviral drugs and boosters.

This has been made possible by the Woyome Foundation for Africa (WOFA), an International HIV/AIDS Charity.

The Foundation has at separate ceremonies made cheque payments covering the cost of the drugs for one year to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Ketu District Hospital and Ridge Hospital Treatment Centres.

The cheques were presented on behalf of WOFA, which has offices in the USA and Europe by Reverend Lawrence Asomaning, who is Head of WOFA's Counselling Unit.

He was accompanied by Vitus Nanbigne, WOFA Project Coordinator and Siade Puplampu, an HIV/AIDS Field Officer.

At the Ridge Hospital, the Deputy Director of Nursing Services Mrs Victoria Anafi expressed appreciation for support stressing the gesture will help save lives.

She noted that they are trying to deal with the stigma associated with the disease through counselling and workshops for the patients.

Mrs. Anafi said some family members out of ignorance still refuse to share things at home with their relatives especially toilet facilities.

She disclosed that the main challenge facing infected nursing mothers is breast feeding when their breasts are sore, resulting in a short period of breast feeding.

The children are weaned off and put on feeding formulae very early she noted.

Mr. Nanbigne assured the Treatment Centre of WOFA's preparedness to assist, noting that if their lives are sustained these children can be productive and the country will benefit from their services.

According to him, if they get weak because they cannot afford their drugs and the virus grows into a full blown AIDS then society is to blame.

A member of the 'Models of Hope', a club made up of HIV patients that advise their peers, said their role is to offer counselling to persons who get to know their status, in order to assure them that all is not lost.

“So far as they do not have AIDS, they can still be useful for Ghana” she added.

They also advise on good eating habits, the need to eat more balanced diets, without smoking and drinking.

Similar donations have been made to the Ketu & Korle Bu Treatment Centres to coincide with the World AIDS Orphans Day which was marked on Wednesday May 7. “We have chosen today to make available to the Treatment Centres, funds for a full years supply of antiretroviral drugs and boosters for the children, and this is under the WOFA One-for-One Campaign launched to ensure the Treatment, Therapy and Care of infected children in Ghana and Africa” explains Vitus Nanbigne, WOFA's Project Coordinator.

Latest figures from the National AIDS Control Program indicate that there are close to 17,000 infected children in Ghana, with almost 3,000 new child infections every year. Out of this figure, more than 5,000 require ARTs, but less than 400 of them have access to the drugs and boosters.

According to WOFA, the One-for-One Campaign is the result of the realisation that there are thousands of infected children whose parents even shy away from taking them to the hospital as a result of lack of funds and also the stigmatisation still associated with the virus.

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