By Caroline Dobbing
A new report launched today focuses on the provision of HIV care and support in resource-poor countries.
Care and Support: The Forgotten Pillar of the HIV Response is published by the HIV Care and Support Initiative at the UK Consortium on AIDS and International Development, of which HelpAge International is a member.
The report also examines the need for care and support and its effect, and looks at the link between care and support and other elements of the HIV response.
Older people provide majority of care
The report identifies older people as primary carers in the global HIV response. It says:
"Older people provide the majority of care to their family members living with HIV and orphaned and vulnerable children. Providing care has a major impact on older people's lives, on their economic security, their health status and emotional wellbeing."
68-year-old Kufekisa Laugery is a subsistence farmer and has been a widow for 16 years. She is head of a household of six children and six adults. Five of these are HIV positive and two are getting anti-retroviral treatment. Kufekisa is also chair of the Senior Citizens' Association of Zambia, a HelpAge affiliate.
Kufekisa would like to see more support for older carers and the children in their care, as she explains in the report:
"I don't see how the much talked about universal access will be achieved without giving support to home-based care and primary care-givers, whose involvement can show the success or failure of such a programme.
"Carers should therefore be trained in proper care-giving skills...Cash transfer programmes should be scaled-up, shelter and sanitation improvement should be ongoing, carers must also be considered for food supplement programmes, and adequate health policy for older persons should be implemented. Educational support for these children who are in our care should also be scaled up."
A critical part of the global HIV response
The HIV Care and Support Initiative is a programme of work designed to help drive forward a vital yet neglected area of the global HIV response, which is critical to achieving the goal of Universal Access for people living with HIV.
The Initiative is primarily driven by the Care and Support Working Group, which includes Mike Podmore from International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Claire Morris from Help the Hospices and Rachel Albone from HelpAge International. VSO, CAFOD, World Vision, Target TB, Results UK, Tearfund, and The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund are also members.
A practical resource for professionals
Rachel Albone, HIV and AIDS Policy Advisor for HelpAge International says:
"Members of the HIV Care and Support Initiative hope that this report will serve as a useful, practical resource for health and development professionals working on HIV and related issues.
"The report clearly demonstrates why care and support are fundamental to a successful response to HIV, and to address broader health and international targets such as the Millennium Development Goals."
The report is dedicated to the memory of David Kato, Ugandan human rights advocate.