Research and Dialogue for HIV+ Children

Written by Steve Blacket on Monday, 28 March 2016. Posted in HIV Affected Children - Bangladesh

A recent consultation in Dhaka has drawn together the key agencies working with HIV affected children in Bangladesh.

Research and Dialogue for HIV+ Children

Bangladesh Youth First Concern (BYFC) initiated the consultation to guide the process of establishing a program for isolated HIV infected children in Bangladesh. The Chief Guest, Dr Md Anisur Rahman, representing the National AIDS/STD Plan, stressed the need for models of care based on best practice, and a coordinated strategy of all service providers.

The keynote presentation by Dr Saima Khan (Acting National Director of UNAIDS) provided current global and national data on HIV/AIDS. She noted that the global HIV infection rate of children fell by 58% from 2000 to 2014, with 32% accessing treatment - a significant improvement from just 14% in 2000. The prevalence of HIV infection remains low in Bangladesh with less than 0.1% of the population being HIV+. Amongst drug users who inject, the prevalence rises to 5.3% and other high risk sectors of the population include fly-in-fly-out workers. Dr Khan reported there were no recorded cases of mother-to-child infections in the past 12 months. The number of HIV+ children in Bangladesh remains low – currently estimated to be about 300 – however Dr Khan warned that these children face high risk of social isolation, stigma, deprivation from health care, education and basic needs such as food, shelter and emotional support. In several cases relatives had claimed the land belonging to children whose parents had died of AIDS.

Despite the risk of stigma and abuse Dr Khan strongly advised that children orphaned through HIV/AIDS should be cared for in their communities wherever possible. Ms Habiba Akter, the founding Director of Ashar Alo Society agreed, saying HIV+ children shouldn’t be given the “double trauma” of being taken from their communities, having already experienced severe losses. However she noted that declining resources were making their task increasingly difficult.

Dr Peter Halder and Mr Apurba Sarker presented the plan of BYFC to establish a program for isolated children infected with HIV who are not being catered for under current programs. Children who have fled or been driven from their communities face extreme risk and will be the highest priority for BYFC’s program. Fulcrum Aid is partnering with BYFC and will provide research, support in project design, advocacy and fundraising.

 

Photo: From left, Steve Blacket (Fulcrum Aid), Dr Md Anisur Rahman (NASP), Dr Ratu Saha (BYFC) & Dr Saima Khan (UNAIDS).

About the Author

Steve Blacket

Steve Blacket

Steve is the Managing Director of Fulcrum Aid, an organisation dedicated to sustainable freedom from extreme poverty with partnerships in four countries across Africa and the Asia-Pacific. Steve’s urban ministry in South Australia led to lifelong friendships among the South Sudanese refugee community who requested Steve’s assistance with community development in their homeland. Working with a faith-based organisation Steve initiated and managed various projects in South Sudan including Darfur refugee support, training and resourcing Traditional Birth Attendants, an intervention program for war affected children, a Midwives Training School, a program for girl’s education, and a community agricultural enterprise. Steve also initiated education projects and social enterprises among the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. Steve returned to Australia in 2013 with a vision of how a small, non-aligned aid organisation committed to assisting early stage, locally initiated projects could make a difference. Partnerships and project opportunities continue to grow, including slavery rehabilitation in South Sudan, social enterprises in Bangladesh, independence schemes for vulnerable young women in Uganda and South Sudan, holistic care for HIV affected children in Bangladesh, and resourcing a Nurse and Midwife School in Juba, South Sudan. Steve’s vision drew support from across Australia and in 2014 he led the founding of Fulcrum Aid, dedicated to supporting in-country leaders and harnessing Australian partners and resources so that local communities could move towards sustainable freedom from extreme inequality and poverty. Today Fulcrum Aid has a dedicated team of Directors and an expert staff including Business, Project, Publicity and Research consultants, supported by Steve in his role as Managing Director.

Contact Steve by email here.

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