People Living with HIV / AIDS (PLHA)

Background

The aims of the Ayries PLHA programme are to provide educational support, nutrition and counselling for people living in families affected by HIV/AIDS, working in partnership with other organisations such as the State Government and Positive Peoples. There are approximately 50 PLHA families in the area where Ayries works.

Access to help and treatment

Ayries has two trained PLHA staff, both positive themselves who, travelling around the villages by bus, act as advocates and counsellors to positive peoples and patients and to their families. Strictest confidence is maintained as the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS is often considerable.

Since 2005, antiretroviral treatment has been available from some Government centres and the national target for 2010 is for 38% of affected people to be accessing treatment. The closest treatment centre is Tambaram, about 5 hours away by bus. A condition of treatment is that after a 16-day stay in the centre while the ART regime is begun, the patient must be released to the care of a trained ‘guardian’ who helps counsel the patient through the side effects and ensures the drugs regime is strictly adhered to so that drug resistance is avoided. Our staff act as these guardians.

The PLHA nutrition programme

Ayries staff also deliver the nutrition funded by Meal-a-Day Australia. Providing nutrition for families has multiple functions including:

The nutrition programme is part of an integrated approach to easing the burden of HIV and AIDS for patients and their families, helping people with HIV provide for their families again, and encouraging the schooling of children, therefore helping break the chain of infection within these communities.

Group meetings and education

In the wider programme, 26 of the PLHA children are helped with their education by an Indian software company. Donors to the Ayries Trust are helping fully with school and College fees for 6 older children, including one who is boarding at school to avoid a difficult family situation. The Trust has a minimum three-year commitment to this assistance.

Members of PLHA families are invited to group meetings at the centre every two weeks where they also share a communal meal. Positive people are particularly vulnerable to TB infection and at any one time several of our DOTS patients may be from PLHA families.

click an image to enlarge