World Vision International (WVI) works diligently on behalf of children in need across the globe. The founders of the organization believed that no children should live in poverty, so they have launched a number of programs to provide services to refugees, hungry children, and youth facing life-threatening medical issues. One of the main focuses of the WVI is fighting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in the world’s most vulnerable populations, including children. Globally, AIDS has emerged as the second-leading cause of death among youth. Only about a third of children with HIV currently receive treatment.
Because of the seriousness of the situation, WVI has launched an initiative that aims to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. So far, the organization has implemented HIV and AIDS programs in 35 countries around the world. These programs focus on four main goals:
The First Goal: Eliminating HIV Infections in Children
The first goal that the organization is addressing is eliminating new HIV infections in children. Prevention and treatment programs aimed at mothers help prevent mother-to-child transmission, so achieving this goal largely means focusing on women’s health care needs. WVI has launched programs that improve reproductive health in particularly vulnerable communities, which entails providing antenatal care, establishing a continuum of care, and ensuring safe deliveries.
WVI also collaborates with existing community institutions, as well as faith leaders who have influence within their congregations. WVI has helped to establish home-based counseling programs for pregnant women and their partners. Community health workers who understand the local culture and have received counseling training conduct these sessions, which focus on topics ranging from HIV screening to breastfeeding. In addition, WVI has worked to strengthen local and national programs that connect women with HIV to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in a stigma-free environment.
Some of the WVI programs that fall under this first goal include Uganda-ttC, which offers timed and targeting counseling; and the Uganda-Care, Support and Treatment Project, which provides services to young mothers.
The Second Goal: Helping Children Thrive
The second part of WVI’s campaign to end AIDS focuses on children who have HIV as well as those who have been affected by it. Many children with HIV were also orphaned by the disease, which puts them at great risk. WVI works to ensure that these children are not forgotten through family-centered counseling and assistance to people who are caring for these young lives. The organization funds testing for vulnerable children and then enrolls any child who tests positive into treatment programs that include health and social services. For these children to have a stable future, it is vital that they pursue education and develop skills that will allow them to one day find a job.
One WVI program that falls under the umbrella of helping children with HIV thrive is Haiti-(General/OVC), which trains community workers in Haiti to deliver sensitive, respectful care to both children and adults affected by HIV and AIDS.
The Third Goal: Putting an End to the Stigma
Much of the hardship faced by people living with HIV stems from the stigma surrounding the virus and the discrimination they face because of their HIV status. Cultural and religious views about gender, sin, and the nature of disease often contribute to these viewpoints. In response, WVI partners with faith leaders and other cultural leaders to dispel common myths and to combat false ideas that can cause harm to vulnerable individuals. Through these partnerships, the organization champions the basic human right to be treated with dignity and respect.
WVI has launched programs in Honduras and Zimbabwe to help fight HIV-related discrimination in those countries. A key program is Channels of Hope, which provides training to youth leaders and religious leaders. The program has proven particularly adept at effecting cultural shifts. In Zimbabwe, the IGATE Club works to give young women the opportunity to focus on education and participate in confidence-boosting activities that allow them to feel empowered.
The Fourth Goal: Providing Prevention and Care to Adolescents
In Africa, AIDS has emerged as the top cause of mortality among adolescents. Part of this development stems from a lack of knowledge among young women about how they can protect themselves from the virus. Furthermore, many young women have no access to critical services, especially antiretroviral therapy. WVI has a special concern for young women, an at-risk population that will serve as a key to ending AIDS. Reaching this population requires specially tailored approaches. So far, WVI has concentrated its efforts on improving parent-child communication and teaching life skills both in and out of schools. In addition, the organization has focused on bolstering support networks for young women, to help them stay in school.
In Lesotho, WVI instituted a program that helps connect all adolescents diagnosed with HIV to treatment. Instead of just giving participants ART, the program focuses on teaching young women and other participants about why treatment is necessary and how it can contribute to a long, healthy life.