UGANDA: New centre to boost paediatric HIV care

Photo: Sven Torfinn/IRIN
More than 20,000 children are infected with HIV every year
Kampala, 10 October 2008 (PlusNews) - Children living with HIV in Uganda have been given greater access to treatment with a new paediatric HIV care centre opened at the main referral hospital in the capital, Kampala.

More than 20,000 children are infected with HIV every year, and 50 percent of them die before their second birthday.

"There is still inadequate access to paediatric HIV care and treatment services in Uganda," the executive director of the centre, Dr Addy Kekitiinwa, said at the opening. "Out of the 330 active antiretroviral (ARV) therapy centres in Uganda, only 110 are able to provide paediatric HIV care services, and most of these are located in urban centres."

The centre at Mulago Hospital – supported by the Baylor International Paediatric AIDS Initiative - is the first to provide a comprehensive package of HIV care and treatment services for children and adolescents infected or exposed to HIV, including testing, treatment, counselling of children and their families, and training healthcare professionals in the management of paediatric HIV.

"Children born of HIV-positive mothers whose status is not known, or those that are HIV-positive but still breastfeeding, are the main beneficiaries of this centre," said Dr Vincent Bagambe, publicity secretary of Baylor-Uganda.

"Everybody is free to come for HIV testing - all children who test HIV-positive will be enrolled into the clinic for chronic care, and HIV-positive parents who have children in the clinic will be given an opportunity to enrol if they wish."

Baylor has operated in Uganda since 2003, when it set up a paediatric infectious diseases clinic at Mulago hospital; today, more than 7,500 children and caregivers receive HIV/AIDS care and are routinely followed up.

The new clinic, costing an estimated US$680,000, was funded by the United States Centres for Disease Control, the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and global pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb, among others.

Baylor-Uganda supports 44 ARV treatment centres around the country, mostly in district hospitals and clinics.

Uganda has an estimated 100,000 people on ARVs, but only 10,000 of them are children.


Theme (s): Children, HIV/AIDS (PlusNews),

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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