Local and Community News
Chicago Teens Receive Gift of Hope
February 21, 2003
Canticle Ministries, a nonprofit ministry run by the Wheaton Franciscan system that serves youths and adults with HIV/AIDS, offers what some public health advocates believe are the first college scholarships in the Chicago area for adolescents with HIV/AIDS.Adapted from:
Most of the applicants are in the adolescent HIV program at Children's Memorial Hospital, where doctors, nurses and social workers helped Canticle develop its concept. They've watched these youths grow up, defying nearly everyone's predictions for shortened life expectancies. "Before I worked with these kids, I would have thought they were all on death's door," said Dr. Robert Garofalo, director of Children's adolescent HIV program. "But I've learned a tremendous amount about the human spirit from them."
Brad Ogilvie, director of Canticle Ministries, who is also HIV-positive, worries the lack of support could put the youths at risk for homelessness and drug addiction. This spring, he will distribute the first scholarships of up to $3,000 a year. Recognizing that many of these teens worry about the stigma attached to HIV, he will protect anonymity of the recipients, most of whom have told no one outside of their family that they have the virus.
Nationwide, more than 27,000 youths ages 13-24 are infected with HIV, including many who acquired the virus as infants from their mothers. With the help of new medicines, many of those children are now thriving and have never had an extended hospital stay.
Of the roughly 50 adolescents with HIV/AIDS in the Children's program, none has died since Garofalo arrived 18 months ago. But, Garofalo said, there are five or six who have progressed to AIDS. Another 10 or 15 have severely troubled immune systems. The remainder, Garofalo said, are in good health. "I absolutely tell them they should be planning for their futures, including going to school and getting jobs," he said. "We have to change mindsets because they can do so well."
For more information, telephone 630-588-9165 or visit www.canticleministries.org.
02.16.03; Meg McSherry Breslin