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2006.11.16
It’s time for a monthly check up for 11-year-old Aling. The news is good. Her treatment continues to hold back the HIV that has infected her since birth. But she hasn’t always been this healthy. Both of her parents died of AIDS. She has lived with her grandmother for most of her life. Aling would frequently get very sick. But since she started taking anti-retro viral drugs, she has improved dramatically. “She doesn’t clearly understand what she faces. She knows that before, she felt sick. And after she received treatment from the doctor, she felt better. That’s all she knows.” Aling attends a UNICEF-supported self-help group for people living with HIV and AIDS in the Lao capital, Vientiane. Groups like this provide not only medical aid, but also offer emotional support and empowerment. The prevalence of HIV and AIDS remains low in Laos, but the country’s geographic location as a crossroads of southeast Asia leaves it vulnerable to a rapid spread of the illness. Increasing numbers of migrant workers and those in the sex trade are getting infected. Treatment options have been limited. In 2005, there was only one hospital distributing anti-retro viral drugs, located in the southern town of Savannakhet. “The biggest problem is access to treatment. There are only a few places in Laos where people can get access to treatment in Laos. They must travel long distances.” UNICEF helps cover the costs of HIV-positive to travel to Savannakhet to collect their life-saving drugs. It also supports life-skills education for children in and out of school and peer education for rural young people who are likely to move to bigger towns or cross the border to seek work. (nat of meditation) For many, spiritual care is just as important as medical care. UNICEF supports an initiative by Buddhist monks to provide meditation and prayer sessions for those living with HIV and AIDS. These visits aim to help them deal with their fears and the social stigma of their condition. The monks also help fight misinformation about the disease in the community at large. “The Buddhist clergy in Laos is playing a very important role in communities through the temples, in providing information and knowledge about the problem of HIV and AIDS in their neighborhoods.” With proper doses of clinical and emotional treatment, Aling and others suffering from HIV and AIDS can hope to beat back their illness and find greater acceptance in their communities. In Vientiane, Laos, this is Steve Nettleton reporting for UNICEF. For every child, advance humanity. *** Asset Name : UNICEF: Special care for children living with HIV in Laos Asset Duration: 03 min 52 secs Shoot City: N/A Shoot Country: N/A Shoot Date: N/A
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