"There continues to be an enormous level of stigma attached to HIV/AIDS in South Africa's township communities and it takes great courage for mothers to acknowledge their own or their child's HIV-positive status or even to test for HIV."
Philani is admitting an increasing number of HIV positive children and mothers to our programmes for nutritional, social and emotional support, skills training for income generation and pre-school education, and we are committed to doing everything possible to meet their needs.
The HIV/AIDS education, care, and support project operates as an integral part of all Philani's programmes. We believe that the impact of HIV/AIDS on families must be countered in a comprehensive way, taking the social, economical, nutritional and general health aspects into account and avoiding dealing with HIV/AIDS as an isolated vertical issue.
HIV-positive children and those suffering from AIDS or affected by HIV in other ways, frequently present with malnutrition and are admitted to, treated, and supported through Philani’s Nutrition Centres and Outreach Programme in the same way as any other child suffering from malnutrition. The Outreach Programme is often the first contact HIV-positive children and their mothers have with health services in their communities. Every child and mother on our programmes who is HIV positive is referred to the antiretroviral treatment programme at the provincial health clinics.
The Philani Outreach Programme and Nutrition Centres help reach, follow up and support the increasing number of people who need antiretroviral treatment. Treatment and prevention are closely linked.
Women who become economically independent have greater control over their lives and with that, a greater chance of protecting themselves from being infected by HIV/AIDS. Philani’s Skills Development and Self Employment Programmes give women a chance to earn a living and support their children in growing up healthy.
Obstacles to care
Many people with HIV are too sick to attend government clinics regularly to receive antiretroviral treatment and check-ups. As a result, some, therefore, discontinue treatment and die. All too frequently, Philani's Outreach Workers discover critically ill HIV-positive women and men living in cold, wet shacks, without anyone to care for them; there are few beds available at hospices and long waits to see doctors at government clinics for referral to hospices. Philani’s Outreach Workers and Home Based Carers arrange transport to clinics and hospitals so that these clients can obtain their anti retro-viral medications and continue to support them in their homes until they have regained their health and strength.