Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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Care and support coverage need increasing


One of the CHAHA project's hildren's support groups, India (c) the Alliance

There are an estimated 70,000 children living with HIV in India and thousands more are orphaned by AIDS. Many struggle to access healthcare and education because of poverty, isolation and exclusion.

Care and support is a vital component of the AIDS response yet this aspect of the response is frequently overlooked and has not received the investment it needs.

This is 1 of 7 key Alliance messages calling on world leaders to recommit to universal access targets in advance of the 2011 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS which takes place in June.

Alliance India is working to meet the needs of these children and their families and carers, leading the largest comprehensive care and support programme for children affected by AIDS in India.

Supporting vulnerable children

CAHA, meaning ‘wish’ in Hindi, was launched in 2007 to support vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS. It is funded by the international donor community through the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Implemented by a consortium of nine partners and led by Alliance India, CAHA operates in 41 districts in four states. By the end of January this year it will have reached 64,000 children.

The programme provides care to children and their associated households, referring children and their carers to antiretroviral treatment centres or public sector nutritional programmes, helping them access schooling and providing them with counselling support and assistance for income generating activities.

As the programme grows the aim is to integrate and coordinate with the public sector to ensure its sustainability.

A different life

The difference it is making in the lives of the children it supports is clear.

Babburi Hari is a 14 year old from Andhra Pradesh in southeast India. “Both my parents died of AIDS. I have sister and we are living with our grandparents. They are very old and unable to do any work. After the death of our parents we were in crisis. I had to go to work and earn for the family and so had to discontinue my studies. It was very difficult to survive so I decided to discontinue my studies and find work. At that time outreach worker Ravi visited our house and explained about the CAHA programme. Since then I am happy going to school. If Ravi didn’t help me I would be working in a mechanic shop or doing some other work by now.”

For some of the children it’s given them confidence to embrace community leadership.

“I can support my family even if the project is not there”

S. Manju is a confident young girl from Tamil Nadu who is full of enthusiasm as she tells her story. “Before joining the project I used to fear going out but after receiving training I am able to go out with confidence. The reason for this is the life skill training I received. I am a leader in the children’s support group and that makes me happy. My health is doing well. Before I used to have a nameless fear but I have it no longer now. Now there is peace at home and the relationships are cordial. Before we used to fight for everything. I used to be very sad because of my family situation but now I have the self-confidence that I can support my family even if the project is not there. This is because of the experience I received through the project. I choose this change because I want to be a role model for others.”

With AIDS funding becoming more constrained it is children supported by these programmes that are likely to be affected. With only 12% of households caring for orphaned children receiving external support (UNICEF 2008), comprehensive care and support coverage desperately needs increasing for children affected by AIDS and households caring for them. It is a vital part of the Universal Access agenda and as world leaders meet at the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS in June it is critical that they commit to the expansion of social protection and comprehensive care and support programmes for the most vulnerable children and families.