HIV/AIDS and children

This has been a really busy week for me. I have been in meetings galore, running all over town, and hacking out code as fast as possible. It has been a lot of interesting stuff most of which deserves a post on my blog.

I think we will start with the most exciting first though. I met the founder of Baobab Health Partnership about a year ago and was very impressed. He has managed to take his experience of working on military helicopters (think robust, practical, usable) and apply it to the health care situation in Malawi. Essentially Baobab has created an inexpensive touchscreen system to guide clinicians and track patient data. In a country where there are virtually no doctors and lots of sick people, a system like this has a dramatic impact.

I have been asked to help create a similar system that will focus on children with HIV/AIDS. I spent a morning in the clinic this week to get my head around the challenges and was absolutely cut to the heart. One girl was a strong 13 year old, whose parents had died of aids a while ago. Just a few years ago, she had barely been strong enough to walk, but with the free ARVs provided by the Lighthouse clinic she is now doing great. I also saw a 10 year old girl who had been raped that morning. The doctor had to write a letter convincing the police that this assailant needed to be tested for HIV. He could treat the girl with ARVs and probably keep her from getting HIV, but the side effects can be extreme. It was a painful reminder that whatever computer system we offered would merely be one tool of the many needed to help these broken situations.

I am really excited to get started on this project.

Coincidentally everyone's favorite Jedi, Ewan McGregor, was in Malawi last year and has just published part of his journal. I think he is a UNICEF representative - so he visited a lot of children suffering from HIV/AIDs. His journal gives a glimpse into the situation that we are battling here:

Suddenly I was standing inches away from this woman who was being counselled on what will happen if her test is positive. The nurse talked to her in the local dialect for quite a long time. There was no reaction on the lady's face. Then the nurse explained to us what was going on, she said that this test was positive, and I realised this woman had just been told she carried the HIV virus and I was gob-smacked. I stood in the doorway staring at this woman, trying to see what her reaction was, and kind of projecting what I assume my reaction would be on to her.
Then we went to what I think was the saddest part of the day in many ways. We went to visit a girl in her tiny little mud house on a hill top, who was dying of Aids, and she was maybe 22 years old.
She came out to meet us and sat down on the mat outside the house, and her child lay with her head on her mummy's lap. She was terribly weak and spoke very slowly about how difficult life was for her, that she couldn't do anything because she was so weak.
I couldn't help but look at the two of them and see how the little girl needed her mum, and how obvious it was that her mum wasn't going to be around for very much longer.

Read the full article here:
My brain can�t take any more pain and suffering

1 Response to HIV/AIDS and children

  1. [...] d and had to get a note from the doctor requiring that the perpetrator be tested for HIV. Read the post here. Rwanda: George Conard is feeling uneasy after visiting a memo [...]

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