Neglected and malnourished, orphans most plagued by HIV | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Neglected and malnourished, orphans most plagued by HIV

Priyanka Vora writes about the fate of HIV infected orphans who do not have access to basic amenities like food.

mumbai Updated: Dec 01, 2012 01:18 IST
Priyanka Vora

Manvi, 4, lost her parents to Aquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). After their death, Manvi, who was detected with HIV soon after birth, was entrusted to the care of an uncle who offered her shelter only at night. During the day, she would roam the streets and eat from neighbours’ homes.

A year ago, when she fell ill, she was taken to Sion Hospital’s pediatric anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centre and put on the ART regimen. Unfortunately, she developed rashes on her skin.

“Doctors said Manvi’s reaction could be fatal,” said Cheri Pereira, senior project officer, Committed Community Development Trust (CCDT), who enrolled her in their orphanage dedicated to children affected and infected by HIV.

The Pediatric Centre of Excellence in HIV Care, Sion Hospital, conducted a pilot study last month of ten HIV-infected children who were living in orpha-nages or with extended family.

“Surprisingly, children at orphanages were better looked after than those staying with extended families,” said Dr Mamta Manglani, director of the centre. “The nutritional and psychological needs of the latter are not taken care of,” she added.

Despite this, government agencies have no specific intervention program to improve their quality of life. In fact, to address the nutritional and educational needs of these children, the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) had initiated a two-year (July 2010-Match 2012) pilot project- CABA, wherein 5,608 children infected with HIV were provided with nutritional and support facilities.

Experts said many HIV-infected orphans do not have access to healthy food. Manvi was severely malnourished when she was enrolled at the orphanage.

“One cannot expect children to take medicines on time. If they don’t consume enough nutritional food, they can develop nausea and other complications after taking ART drugs,” said a research fellow from Sion Hospital.

(Names changed to protectv identity).