After seven years and $1.4 billion of American aid, Uganda is coming back to life following a near-death experience with HIV/AIDS.
But the battle is far from over. The U.S. government is spending on average $5 million a week ($280 million per year) to fight HIV in the East African country. About 100,000 Ugandans are newly infected each year, and about 25,000 are young children.
"We have a big gap to address in pediatric treatment and care," said Addy Kekitiinwa, executive director of Baylor College of Medicine Children's Foundation in Kampala. "It's a shame that most adult facilities cannot offer pediatric services."
Christianity Today visited Kampala's Mildmay clinic, which treats HIV-infected women and children. Inside, preschooler Elizabeth happily plays with Jackie, her 2-year-old sister. Both of them are too young to realize how narrowly they escaped becoming a statistic. Worldwide, 280,000 children died of AIDS in 2008.
Wearing a faded pink-and-white dress, Elizabeth is at the clinic for a check-up. For the past four years, clinics and hospitals have become her virtual second home. Born with HIV, Elizabeth came into the world weighing 4.4 pounds. Within eight months, she had contracted meningitis. She was continually coughing and vomiting and became malnourished. After six months of intensive care, she had a 75 percent weight gain and was discharged.
Winnie, Elizabeth and Jackie's mother, is among the 1.1 million Ugandans living with HIV. Before giving birth to Jackie, Winnie, 26, joined an HIV prevention program for expectant women, and so far Jackie has remained disease-free. Now pregnant, Winnie receives updated instruction at Mildmay on how to keep the virus from spreading to her third child.
Such programs are relatively ...