For over ten years, Ms. Lan hailing from the Mekong delta province of An Giang has gradually taken her kid to the Children Hospital No.1 in Ho Chi Minh City for examination and medication.
The kid was detected to be infected by HIV in the mother's cervical secretions or blood at the age of four when he bled at the nose in a prolonged time.
Ms. Lan said that before receiving treatment, her son often has fever, several ailments, and blood in the nose; however, his health condition has been getting better since he received treatment. He goes to school every day.
For fear of the stigma and discrimination that still surrounds HIV and AIDS in most communities which serves as a hindrance for child carers getting treatment for children, Ms. Lan travels a long distance from An Giang province with her son to the city for treatment instead of local infirmary.
Moreover, they receive good consultation from medical workers in the city’s hospital.
Ms. Lan’s son who is just one of example of HIV-infected children receives examination and drug from the hospital’s Infection Department. From 2005, the Department was set up and provided treatment for thousand HIV-infected kids in HCMC and southern provinces.
Dr. Truong Huu Khanh, head of the Infection Department , said most of kids with HIV being treated in the department get HIV from a mother who is infected. Before, the prevention program for these special kids has not developed, the hospital department admits so many HIV-infected kids sometimes up to over 1,000 kids.
Now, the program runs effectively, the infection cases have reduced. At present, the department is providing treatment for 502 kids or averagely it receives 4 – 10 fresh cases.
Noticeably, the death toll decreased considerably. For instance, from 2005 to 2011, 85 AIDS-related deaths among kids were reported accounting for 1.8 percent a year while from 2012 to 2014, 34 kids died of the fatal disease accounting for 1.4 percent annually. Happily, from 2015 till now, just 16 kids succumbed to the disease accounting for 0.2 percent a year.
Dr. Khanh said the reduction of death toll proves the prevention program’s effectiveness.
Treatment a child with HIV is more complicated than an adult because some of them are stubborn when it comes to taking medicines. Additionally, the number of medication varies according to a child’s weight. Worse, these kids “rebel” at the age of 10 -15 and they disagree to take medicine or go to hospital any more.
In the other hand, parents don’t want their children to understand their ailment. Ms. Thu Huong, a mother of 12 year old boy in the southern province of Dong Nai frets because her son frequently asks her about his illness and she tries to keep the illness a secret because she wants the son to have normal life without inferiority complex.
Dr. Truong Huu Khanh advised parent to tell their kids about the disease or else kids will refuse to take medicine or take preventive measures.
Dangerously, kids with HIV will suffer drug- resistance because they refuse treatment; accordingly, they are likely to transmit the disease to others. Therefore, goal of controlling HIV in the country is facing difficulties, said Dr. Khanh.
In fact, several kids got shocks after they know they are infected with HIV virus, they left the home wandering somewhere and have unprotected sex to deliberately infect others as a mean of revenge.
Teenagers carrying HIV virus should receive psychological consultation yet a few infirmaries provide advices to them because of lack of funding, Dr. Khanh said.
At present, three medical workers of the Department are responsible for treating and consulting for over 500 kids. Worse, one health worker will be sent to work in other department. Dr. Khanh worried consultation is left vacant totally which results in bad consequences as the number of HIV-infected kids entering the teenager period surges.
The national HIV prevention and control program should take heeds to treatment for kids because they highly spread the disease to the community.