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Donated medications make a big difference for HIV-positive orphan

Christine, 8, faces HIV with help from her faith, her grandmother, and World Vision, who distributes the donated pharmaceuticals that help her survive.

June 2008



Christine, whose parents both died of AIDS, lives with her grandmother, Demita, in a village in eastern Uganda.
Christine, whose parents both died of AIDS, lives with her grandmother, Demita, in a village in eastern Uganda.
Photo ©2007 Paul Bettings/World Vision
Christine happily runs home from school and gives a hug to her grandmother, Demita. As they embrace, it becomes apparent that though Christine is 8 years old, she looks much younger and weaker than other children her age.

Christine was born with HIV, which has stunted her growth considerably. When she was a toddler, both of her parents died because of AIDS-related causes. Christine also lost a younger sibling because of the devastating disease. Her one surviving sibling is an older sister who is healthy and lives about 30 miles away with relatives. Christine lives with her grandmother in a village in Soroti, Uganda.

Cautiously hopeful

Until recently, Christine got sick frequently and suffered from tummy swelling, a skin rash, and mouth sores. "But we don't see those anymore," says Demita. "She last had mouth problems four months ago, which was when World Vision started assisting us. Her appetite is very good."

Christine often needs anti-malaria medication and drugs to treat the coughs and sores caused by her weakened immune system. Demita used to take Christine to the health clinic where they would have to pay cash, $3 for the medicine. In Uganda, where nearly 85 percent of the population lives on less than $1 a day, paying $3 for medicine can be nearly impossible.

But thanks to World Vision's product donation program called Gifts-in-Kind, Demita no longer has to pay for medicine. The Gifts-in-Kind program accepts first-quality product donations from corporations, including pharmaceutical companies, then distributes the products through World Vision's network of staff and volunteers to help people in need — people like Christine.

It's a three-hour walk to the World Vision health center that dispenses the drugs, but Demita is grateful for the free medication for her granddaughter, despite the trade-off.

'The drugs have run out'

The nurse that has been treating Christine at the clinic for several years holds up the drug that the 8-year-old girl can now receive for free, thanks to World Vision's Gifts-in-Kind program.
The nurse that has been treating Christine at the clinic for several years holds up the drug that the 8-year-old girl can now receive for free, thanks to World Vision's Gifts-in-Kind program.
Photo ©2007 Paul Bettings/World Vision

Still, Demita remains apprehensive, even though Christine's condition has improved since taking new medication this year. "I am not yet at peace," says Demita. "If this infection returns, it can be really bad."

She is right to be cautious. Christine has not had any anti-retroviral drugs, the medication that fights infection, for three months. "Christine used to take anti-retroviral drugs from our partners..." said Michael Okiror, a World Vision child monitor, "but she does not get them anymore, because the drugs have run out."

World Vision does not supply anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs), but helps connect those in need with various avenues of distribution. In Christine's case, when the partner organization ran out of ARVs to distribute, World Vision staff looked for other options, but none were available. So, World Vision helps support Christine's health by making sure she has nutritious food and access to other medicines that will treat various infections as they arise.

Demita remains hopeful for Christine's sake, explaining that everything will be all right if she gets sick again. "You will be fine," she tells her granddaughter. "I will take you to World Vision and you will get treatment."

A source of strength


They experience other challenges besides Christine's health. In a community where HIV and AIDS still carry quite a stigma, an individual's intimate details tend to become common knowledge. "Many times when she is playing, children mock her that her mother's AIDS is going to kill her," says Demita.

But Christine is full of resilience and faith in a God who is stronger than her bullies and her HIV. "When she falls ill, we pray," says Demita. "We also go to church every Sunday, walking over a mile."

As Christine sits with her grandmother, the little girl moves her hand in the shape of a cross, an outward testament to the Roman Catholic faith that brings daily strength and encouragement to this resilient family.


Learn more


>> Read about World Vision's Gifts-in-Kind product donation program.
>> Learn about how World Vision helps provide health care and hygiene education in developing countries.

Three ways you can help

>> Thank God for generous corporate donations that have enabled Christine to acquire her critical and once-unaffordable medication. Pray that World Vision's Gifts-in-Kind program would continue to improve the quality of life for children like her around the world.
>> Explore how you can help provide medical care for those in need around the world.
>> Donate now to help stop the spread of AIDS and care for those affected by this terrible pandemic.

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