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Giving children affected by AIDS the opportunity to dream

Titus (pictured middle) loves to play soccer, cook with his brother and do math. One day this bright, young 12-year-old boy hopes to be an engineer. Yet, Titus faces some serious challenges. He lives in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, which is a tough place to grow up. Most families live in one-room shanties constructed of makeshift materials, and children typically sleep on the floor. Titus and his mother are also both HIV-positive.

But with support from ChildFund Titus and his mother are receiving the medications they need to stay healthy, and they also attend a support group for those affected by HIV and AIDS.

Titus and his mother, who is a community health worker and sells vegetables near their home, tested HIV-positive in 2006. His mother was in shock at first and did not take the medications she needed to be healthy. Today, though, thanks to the support group, both mother and son take their medicine regularly and have learnt about nutrition therapy, as well as receiving water treatment kits and school materials. Last year Titus also went to a special camp for children affected by HIV and AIDS.

Titus is happy and confident about the future, and he and his parents and brothers talk about HIV openly. “The one thing I love about my family is that we love each other,” he says.

Kenya has a serious AIDS epidemic that touches virtually everyone in the country. Although the prevalence of the disease has declined in the past 15 years, in 2011, 1.6 million people, 6.2 per cent of the country, were recorded as HIV-positive, according to UNICEF, and 1.1 million children were AIDS orphans.

ChildFund has implemented a long-term support program for children in Kenya who have been affected by HIV and AIDS. So far, 350 children and 200 parents have been tested for HIV and received counselling, and more than 1,000 families have started income-generating work that allows them to afford nutritious food and school materials. More than 70,000 children have also received insecticide-treated mosquito nets that help prevent malaria, a disease that is particularly debilitating for those already weak with HIV or AIDS.

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