What lies ahead for children, who have been exposed to HIV/AIDS, how does it occur and how can it be prevented? These are some important and challenging questions to answer but in order to create a safe and healthy environment for future generations; these questions need to be answered.
The most common way HIV is spread to a child is from an infected mother to child; this can occur while the mother is pregnant with the child, while the child is being born and/or after the child is born . It is also common for the virus to be transmitted to the child when the mother starts to feed the baby with her breast milk. If the babies and mothers are not administered with antiretroviral treatment during the most susceptible phase of infection, then the babies stand a high chance of dying.
Due to funding, HIV life cover, HIV medical aid schemes, experienced personnel and available resources many children’s’ lives could be saved. Preventative measures are used to stop mother to child HIV infections from occurring. By providing treatment options to children, as early as possible, allows for them to grow into adulthood and to lead a considerably normal life.
HIV treatment is provided to the mother before she gives birth to her child and while she is in the process of delivering. The baby also receives treatment after birth to secure a healthy future. By teaching mothers to breastfeed their children safely can prevent HIV from spreading from mother to the child.
Nowadays certain medical aids provide HIV positive hospital plans to infected mothers and life cover institutes offer policies to people living with HIV/AIDS. This adds to stopping the transmission of the virus from the mother to the child as treatment is available to them.
Infected mothers have the responsibility to continue HIV positive treatment in order to look after and protect her child/children. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system and destroys the CD4 cells (white cells) that fight disease. Therefore children, despite early treatment, still face childhood illnesses such a Chickenpox and Mumps which could be lethal to them if they don’t receive the ongoing treatment.
Children living with HIV, who have not had the luxury of early preventative HIV treatment, can develop opportunistic infections such as TB(Tuberculosis). It is imperative for children living with HIV to start taking Antiretroviral treatment as soon as they can, and to continue doing so. Unfortunately, those whose treatment has been delayed can grow into adolescence but often their growth is stunted and they might appear to look undeveloped.
It is essential for caregivers to continue the care for their children by taking out medical insurance or life cover for HIV positive children for example. Using HIV preventative programs offered by the community is also helpful to infected children. Most of all educating and providing emotional support to children living with HIV is crucial to stop the vicious cycle from spreading. Bt Adriana Levi