Children should be the first to benefit from our successes in defeating HIV, and the last to suffer from our failures”
— Anthony Lake, Executive Director, UNICEF
 
Child when he arrived to Cherish Uganda

Child when he arrived to Cherish Uganda

 

The Challenge

Since the beginning of the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s, 78 million people have contracted HIV and over 38 million individuals have died of AIDS-related deaths.

Today, there are over 170,000 children living with HIV in Uganda. Many of these children have been orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. 

 

Understanding HIV

What is HIV?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the cells of the body's immune system. Unlike some other viruses, the human body can't get rid of HIV completely, so those who have HIV, have it for life. 

Then, what is AIDS?

There are 3 stages of HIV. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, known as AIDS, is the third and final stage of HIV.If a person with HIV begins receiving treatment early on, they might never advance to having AIDS. 

How does someone contract HIV?

HIV is spread through direct contact with certain bodily fluids, including sex, sharing a needle, or during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding

HIV is not transmitted through casual contact such as shaking hands, sharing toilets, sharing dishes/drinking glasses, water, or mosquitos

 

The Cherish Response

There is still heavy stigma associated with HIV in Uganda. Many children living with HIV are often discriminated against or swept to the margins. Due to fear and a lack of awareness and education on HIV, many children with HIV are viewed as a burden. 

We work with children and communities to educate people on HIV to help create hope for a future for those living HIV-positive. Cherish Uganda is on a mission to change the story of HIV for generations to come.

 
 

Treatment

HIV treatment, known as ART (antiretroviral treatment), is free in Uganda thanks to the PEPFAR Fund passed under the George W. Bush's presidency in 2003.

People living with HIV take an assortment of medication depending on the strain and strength of the HIV virus in their body. Medications, called ARVs  (antiretroviral drugs), are taken twice a day. 

Since the immune system is compromised for a person with HIV, they are often vulnerable to cancer, tuberculosis, and other disease and have to be on and off on treatment for these as well.  

In 2015, Cherish Health Centre opened and is now a certified location to administer ARVs. Children in Cherish's care, as well as the public, can receive ART at Cherish Health Centre, who is partnered with Uganda's MildMay Hospital. 

 
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Education

We believe there is a huge opportunity to change the story of HIV through education. As a result of stigma and discrimination, children living with HIV are often deprived of an opportunity to go to school. Therefore, students with HIV who apply to our schools are automatically accepted, and the remaining spots are left open to children from the community who would likely not attend school if we didn't intervene. 

The average age in Uganda is 15, so our schools make a huge impact on speaking to the rising population of Uganda, to change the story of HIV for the future.