Working with AIDS orphans
Oct 22, 2006
I am the director of an NGO called Children of the Dawn, which specialises in community care of orphaned and vulnerable children in rural South Africa (www.childrenofthedawn.org.za)
We presently care for 228 rural children. 70% of them are orphaned due to AIDS. I am the founder of this organisation and works in partnership with dedicated community caregivers who care for the children on a daily basis.
Despite my involvement, I am ashamed to say that I often worry about the risks of transmission and possible infection :(
We have a party on Saturday with 100 of the kids. One activity will involve face painting. One of the participating children has full blown AIDS, and has sores on his head and around his mouth. Aside from the fact that the make-up will not be good for his sores, should we be worried about getting into contact with his skin with bare hands?
I am struggling to distinguish the situations where we should take specific precautions and situations where no extra precautions are needed. Most of the children are actually HIV- (even if they have lost their parents to this disease).
On a personal level, should I pay specific attention to paper cuts, or other cuts on my hands when interacting with the children?
It would help me if you could give me some guidelines on how to interact with the children so that worry does not spoil the joy of looking after these fantastic kids, knowing that out of the 228 children, only 3 of them receive 24h care. Our programme is based on a community-care model, not on institutionalisation.
I don't know if I have very clear :( I believe I am well acquainted with the HIV/AIDS issue, but I have no medical background as such.
Please help me enjoy my work to the fullest. This is my vocation, and I wish it would not be tainted by worries of my own well-being.
Merci d'avance de vos commentaires toujours si pertinents et si justes.
A tres bientot (avant samedi si possible!)
Response from Dr. Frascino
Your work as founder and director of Children of the Dawn is laudable.
Regarding prevention measures to be taken while working with HIV-positive children, common sense should prevail. It is important to note that HIV is not transmitted by casual contact. Nor is it transmitted by sweat, tears, saliva, sputum, nasal mucous, vomitus, urine or feces, unless they contain visible blood. Certainly if the children have open sores or are bleeding, care should be taken to avoid contact with potentially infectious bodily fluids (in this case, primarily blood). Open sores or cuts on the kids should be covered with a bandage if possible. Similarly, if you have a significant cut (open, fresh or actively bleeding), you too should cover it with a Band-Aid. I'd suggest you spend some time reading through the wealth of information on this site and related links concerning HIV/AIDS basics and prevention. In addition I'll post a question from the archives below.
On behalf of the children whose lives you have touched, please accept my heartfelt thanks for your compassion. C'est moi qui dois dire merci à toi pour tes devoirs louables.
Working with HIV and Aids Children May 1, 2003
Response from Dr. Frascino
Congratulations on your Arts Outreach Program. Hugging, climbing, singing, and spitting HIV-positive kids pose absolutely no risk to your artists! No special precautions are needed. Just continue to teach and play with the kids hold them, kiss them, touch them, and love them. Certainly common sense measures, such as avoiding contact with their blood if someone gets cut, are obvious, but casual contact (sweat, spit, tears, etc.) carries absolutely no risk.
Keep up the good work. Hug the kids for me.
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