It’s now been 30 years since the AIDS virus was identified. UNAIDS estimates that 34 million people are living with HIV today and nearly 30 million have died from AIDS related causes since June 5th, 1981. At Orchard: Africa we’ve seen an entire generation live through the disease. From the obscurity and lack of knowledge relating to the disease to where we stand today, it is a good time to look at the progress that has been made.
6.6 million, including 425,000 children, are receiving antiretroviral therapy in low and middle-income countries – this is a 22-fold increase since 2001. Antiretroviral drugs have always been a difficult solution based on their complexity, side affects and constant need for change in Africa. We’ve seen many patients who’ve resisted ARV’s and chosen to stop taking them. Our home based care volunteers are trained to help assist in this area and take patients to local clinics along with helping them stick to their medical plan. It is astounding to see the massive impact these drugs have on a person’s health and it is a miracle drug. ARVS also have a massive impact on infection rates – reducing transmission rates by 96%.
Global infection rates have also declined – with a 35% decline in South Africa between 2001 and 2009. South Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV in Africa. We have noticed a great improvement in the understanding and nature of the disease. Our HIV/AIDS education is now being met with open eyes and ears instead of the embarrassment and giggles that used to follow our discussions on sex and STDS in local high schools. Studies show that people are starting to adopt the ABS’c (Abstain, Be Faithful and Condemise) of safer Sexual Behavior.
Children infection rates have radically been reduced thanks to ARV’S, reducing the transmission of the HIV virus during childbirth and breast-feeding. Unfortunately this is increasing the number of orphans in Africa as many children later lose their mothers to AIDS. The number of children infected with HIV in 2009 was 26% lower than in 2001. Many of the children we feed daily were born to mothers who were already infected with the virus and are now orphaned.
Great progress has been made, both on the medical front but also in the understanding and nature of the disease. Our projects are being affective. Even though the rate of new HIV infections remains high at 7000 per day, the global reduction in new HIV infections are highest in Southern Africa. Investment in HIV response has increased 10 fold from $1.6 billion to $15.9 billion in 2009 but many low income countries remain heavily dependent on external financing. $22 billion is needed by 2015 to ensure 12 million HIV infections are averted and 7.4 million AIDS deaths averted.
We face a Goliath but we are David.
Hello from Orchard: Africa!
After months of going through the creative process our new brand has launched. During this time we had some great ideas, some rather silly ideas and some really horrible ideas that got kicked out the door. The staff is thrilled with the end result.
Helping Hands In Africa has become Orchard: Africa. We are still the same organization but with a different name and a different brand presence. Our commitment to the vulnerable generation in Africa is still the same, if not stronger. Our model and our strategy is the same, if not improved. Our leadership and our team are more committed than ever. Our marketing and our branding have changed … to reflect our strong commitment to real, impactful and sustainable growth in the lives of the vulnerable people we serve.
Apart from the obvious changes with our name and logo and website, we have great new ways for you to engage and partner with us. We also have a new social media presence on twitter , facebook and of course this blog where you can get news from us but also where you can respond.
One of the things we’re especially proud of is the Village page on our website. This is where you can get information on each village, see where it is located on Google maps, look at photos and see our progress. This Village Report page will be updated every month with news, reports, stats, photos and anything else we can think of to keep you in the loop.
We’ve been through months of hard work but it’s been worth it. We like the results.