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Published: March 19th 2012
Task Force HQ
Headquarters for the HIV Task Force.
Today really started to bring to light the reason we are here. First we spent some time familiarizing ourselves with the hospital in Manzini. Secondly, we broke up into teams, were paired up with community HIV/AIDS workers and went out with them to do community based visitations. The issues as I best understand them are as follows.
• There is an HIV/AIDS epidemic that has been ongoing for some time. It was predicted at one point that Swaziland would have no adult population by 2030 if the epidemic went unchanged.
• Treatment (Anti Retroviral Therapy or A.R.T.) is available to patients diagnosed and is effective at prolonging and improving their clinical condition. ARTs need to be taken with food.
• Nutrition and access to food is a critical issue with many patients on ARTs.
• This creates a vicious cycle: ARTs cause nausea unless taken with food, food shortages mean people don’t have food but have medication, they get nauseated and feel less like eating and end up malnourished.
• TB goes hand in hand with the HIV afflicted population here, and many of them are on ARTs in addition to TB treatment.
The HIV Task Force takes it upon themselves to
Task Force Leaders
These two women - Evelyn and Maggie are the backbone of the HIV/AIDS Task Force. Amazing women with a passion and warmth for what they do.
monitor communities with HIV/AIDS patients, encourages and counsels them, monitors their clinical and social support and brings them food when they can.
We broke up into five teams, were paired with an experienced Task Force Community worker and set out to visit seven homes each. Some of these were in poor areas of Manzini, some teams went further out into more remote villages. Each team had clinicians and to do patient assessments. We also brought each patient a bucket of food items and toys for the kids. It was amazing to see the condition these patients live in, the lack of social support in some of these “family units” and the impressive knowledge and support these community workers contribute.
The HIV/AIDS Task Force monitors and assists about 300 community based patients. Many of these are very sick, some have no family unit to care for them, and some end up dying and leaving their children with no other family around to care for the kids…because the rest of the family has died from HIV/AIDS. The Task Force workers often end up caring for these kids as well.
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