domenica 12 febbraio 2012

AIDS: a fight still continuing

Many social, political and economical factors have led to the fact that up to now 70% of the HIV infections is in Africa.
We may think of poverty, ignorance, lack of information, wars, and inadequate health policies. But the fact remains that in Africa we have seen the explosion of the disease with the known negative effects on the social network as a whole.
Chaaria has been working on HIV since 1998 when nobody believed that HIV could be present in rural areas like the one we are in.  When I was proposing to my colleagues the possibility of the infection in our patients, they were adamant. Even the patients were in total denial believing that HIV was a disease for homosexual, drug addicts and prostitutes.
The normal way of translating AIDS was for the common folk was: American Invention to Discourage Sex.
Usually people believed that the reason of their bad health was witchcraft.
Another problem was that we did not even have a test. It is only in 1999 that we started buying the first rapid HIV Kits: the tests were expensive but they gave us a clear idea of how much the infection was common.
The normal presenting features were the ones called in the books “slim disease”:  patient very emaciated; fever of unknown origin; diarrhea and vomiting; extensive oral thrush. With the advent of the HIV test we could also prove that the immense number of TB infections were actually associated with immunosuppression.
We have put a great effort in preparing counselors who could convince people on voluntary testing and on behavior change. But the crisis was that we had no drugs. Why to test somebody only to tell him that he would die without any medication? My stress was even bigger considering the fact that in Italy antiretroviral treatment has been free since 1985.
We solved the psychological problem with the help of the “Amedeo di Savoia” Hospital of Turin (Italy), who accepted Chaaria in the “Esther Project” through which we have been able to buy and to give ART to our patients without charging anything. Proudly we can say that the distribution of ARV in Chaaria came about 3 years before the big drive towards global ART availability promoted by various national and international organizations (PEPFAR, Bill Gates’ Foundation, World Bank, WHO, GOK).
For the initiation of ARV we have relied on WHO clinical staging and on the total lymphocyte count up to 2007, when an agreement with the “St Egidio Community” of Rome (Italy) has allowed us to offer free CD4 count to all our clients. That cooperation goes on very well up to now, and we are part of the “DREAM Project” of the above Italian Organization.
Now the Esther project is finished and Chaaria is part of the global strategy coordinated by the government of Kenya: our clients receive a comprehensive clinical approach taking into consideration not only health but also psychological and social support. We have an integrated management for TB and HIV. In the antenatal clinic we offer prevention of mother to child transmission while in the postnatal clinic we assure all the clinical guidelines to make sure the new born remains negative.
Although much is still to be done, we believe that we have gone very far considering where we started from in 1998.

Dr Giuseppe Gaido

Nessun commento:

Chaaria è un sogno da realizzare giorno per giorno.

Un luogo in cui vorrei che tutti i poveri e gli ammalati venissero accolti e curati.

Vorrei poter fare di più per questa gente, che non ha nulla e soffre per malattie facilmente curabili, se solo ci fossero i mezzi.

Vorrei smetterla di dire “vai altrove, perché non possiamo curarti”.

Anche perché andare altrove, qui, vuol dire aggiungere altra fatica, altro sudore, altro dolore, per uomini, donne e bambini che hanno già camminato per giorni interi.

E poi, andare dove?

Gli ospedali pubblici hanno poche medicine, quelli privati sono troppo costosi.

Ecco perché penso, ostinatamente, che il nostro ospedale sia un segno di speranza per questa gente. Non ci sarà tutto, ma facciamo il possibile. Anzi, l’impossibile.

Quello che mi muove, che ci muove, è la carità verso l’altro, verso tutti. Nessuno escluso.

Gesù ci ha detto di essere presenti nel più piccolo e nel più diseredato.

Questo è quello che facciamo, ogni giorno.

Fratel Beppe Gaido

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