Saturday, September 02, 2006

Haitian Children and AIDS

AIDS and Children

The child pictured is an 11 year old Haitian boy who was admitted to the hospital several days ago with pulmonary tuberculosis. He is receiving antiretroviral medication for HIV and is taking tuberculosis medications also. He receives a plate of hot food for lunch which includes vegetables, rice, and red bean sauce. I told him to eat his bean sauce for the protein and he dived right in. He wants to beat these two illnesses.

Haiti has the highest prevalence of HIV infection in Latin America. Currently, of the children in the Caribbean region who are living with AIDS, 86% live in Haiti. There are 19,000 children living with HIV in Haiti (UNICEF, 2004).

A child dies of an AIDS related disease every minute around the world. 2.3 million children live with AIDS globally.

Haiti has the highest prevalence of HIV in the western hemisphere. 3% of the adult population is HIV positive. One year survival for AIDS patients without treatment in Haiti is 30%. This includes children.

An article published in the New England Journal of Medicine from researchers in Haiti with Haitian patients, documented the feasibility of treating HIV in Haiti. Conventional wisdom tells us that HIV combined with malnutrition, tuberculosis, and tropical diseases in Haiti is nearly impossible to treat. The research found the opposite. Both adults and children in Haiti did as well as U.S. patients with HIV treatment. Children had an amazing 98% survival rate after one year with HIV treatment.

I have seen many pediatric patients in Haiti that have watched their playmates die. They know what is coming for them if they do not receive the medication. They usually have lost one or both parents from the disease as well.

Many HIV positive children are now being treated in Haiti and around the world. Their chances for prolonged survival with a higher quality of life have been improved.

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