We have recently joined an effort to support a local population of HIV patients. Once each week we send doctors, a nurse, and a volunteer pharmaceutical specialist to treat these complicated patients. This is difficult work due to the nature of the illness, but we see the size of the need and keep pursuing the development of this program. Several thousand people in our city are afflicted, and often do not receive the care they need due to policies at local hospitals and clinics. We are still in the trust-building stage of this initiative, due to the shame and guilt often associated with this disease, but the regular patients are beginning to open up about the breadth of challenges they face. This also challenges our medical staff to improve treatment methods.
When funding becomes available, we plan to support a local countryside village with a large HIV population, the result of contaminated blood donation equipment several years ago. We plan each year to take one of the local “barefoot” doctors and give them a few months of training on HIV care. Typically, these “barefoot” doctors have only a middle-school education with some specialized rudimentary first-level patient care, but they are the only caregivers available in the village.
It is unclear just how big this program could grow as statistics are so rough, but we anticipate a long-term commitment to help these patients lead more normal lives.