Universal Access to Care and Treatment should be a Basic Human Right

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 General News
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ALEXANDRIA, Va., Dec. 1 More than 33.4 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in the world today with 2.7 million new infections occurring each year. FHSSA reports, Sub-Saharan Africa is unequally impacted by HIV/AIDS, with 71% of new infections each year. December 1 is World AIDS Day, a day of awareness and outreach to help people worldwide understand the impact of HIV/AIDS. A central theme for World AIDS Day 2009 is "Universal Access and Human Rights."

FHSSA truly believes that Compassion has no Borders. Every individual deserves the right to face life threatening illness with dignity and respect. HIV/AIDS has had devastating effects on the lives of those infected and affected by disease. Many families are coping with multiple generations infected with disease and children who no longer have living or healthy parents. Grandparents and neighbors, who are often dealing with their own disease status are left to care for these children. Increased access of individuals with HIV/AIDS in Africa to life enhancing anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) has allowed for those who receive treatment to expand their life into the foreseeable future. While these individuals are experiencing some sense of renewed health, they are often afflicted with other preventable diseases due to decreased immune system function, social stigma, and financial hardship.

In Africa, hospice and palliative care serves as a necessary support for these families and individuals as they face the affects of HIV/AIDS in their lives. Those fortunate enough to receive palliative care are treated not only for the virus but also for the side effects of HIV/AIDS. Support is given for diseases that they are now more susceptible to, education on HIV/AIDS and further prevention, management of pain, adherence to the strict regimen of ARVs, spiritual care, social support for themselves and their family, and a listening ear as the caregiver assists the patient and their family in continuing life with incurable disease. This form of care and support should not only be available to a few fortunate individuals who live in the right place at the right time, but should be a right given to all those affected by any life-limiting illness.

At present, over 80 hospice partners from organizations across the U.S. provide resources to advocate for and assist in the provision of quality, compassionate hospice and palliative care in 16 African countries. In 2008, more than 250,000 families and individuals were served by FHSSA partners in Africa.

FHSSA collaborates with national and international organizations to develop and expand comprehensive hospice and palliative care services through grant funded projects in specific locations and US to African hospice/palliative care organization partnerships. FHSSA and our partners support compassionate care where the need is great and resources are few.

You can be part of the effort to make universal access to hospice and palliative care a reality for those living with HIV/AIDS in Africa. To learn more about FHSSA and its work in countries throughout Africa please visit www.fhssa.org. For more information about how you can support the work of FHSSA email info@fhssa.org or call 703/647-5176.

Media Contact:Erinn NanneyPh: 703-647-6684


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