No! HIV is either contracted from the mother or from being a survivor of sexual abuse.
Nevertheless, they have to survive. And in order to live longer and healthier lives, they have to be on medication – even if home is kilometres away from the health facility.
That’s where Friends Foundation Inc. steps in.
It was established in 1998, initially to care for people living with HIV.
But with the increased statistic among children alone, the foundation now focuses specifically on children under its two programs; children exposed to HIV and children living with HIV.
As explained by Rory Sitapai, executive officer;
- Exposed are children under 18 months. The child is weaned from breastfeeding and provided Lactogen.
- After 18 months, a child born from a HIV positive mother is confirmed either negative or positive.
- If tested positive for HIV, the child automatically goes into the second program.
“Port Moresby General Hospital provides clinical support. Where they stop their services, we continue,” said Sitapai.
The foundation provides nutritional assistance for the child, financial support to access health facility, etc.
This support continues until the child is 16 or 18 years and then, is referred to an adult support group.
The foundation is based in Port Moresby but has connections as far into the Central Province and Kikori in Gulf Province.
“We have children as far as Abau area who come in. And bus fare is about K30 – K50 one way,” he said.
The foundation’s vision is for longer life for the children.
FFI recently partnered with Links of Hope, another charity organisation also committed to helping this population.
FFI is looking forward to more partnerships in the coming years, to make their work easier.