XVIII International AIDS Conference


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Changing policies to protect HIV infected children in social abandonment: the power of the media

P. Salazar Ramírez1, L. Liendo1, M. Blas1, D. Salazar2

1Via Libre, Lima, Peru, 2Ministerio de Salud, Lima, Lima, Peru

Issues: We identified hospitals in Lima, Peru where six healthy but socially abandoned and HIV-infected children were waiting to leave although on discharge condition. The reason for this prolonged hospital stay was the absence of a policy that allows HIV positive children to be hosted at public orphanages. These prolonged hospital stays increased the risk of HIV positive children acquiring intra-hospital infections.
Description: The focus of our project "Creating a favorable environment for children living with HIV in Peru" was to create a policy which would allow children with HIV to be moved from hospitals to orphanages. We sent letters and requested appointments to congressmen, policy makers and the national ministry of women. After 12 months of failed attempts for meetings, we decided to go to the media to expose this problem. On the same day the problem was aired on television, we were contacted and informed by congressman that the children with HIV were going to be moved to two public orphanages. These orphanages now constitute pilot centers to host all HIV positive children in Peru.
Lessons learned:
1) It is important to implement different strategies to promote a positive change in policies even when preliminary attempts fail
2) In bureaucratic health systems, the media can be a powerful tool to promote positive changes in policies
3) It is important to develop advocacy campaigns with journalists and writers of radio, TV, newspapers, websites, and magazines.
Next steps: We will perform follow-up and monitoring of the pilot orphanages to ensure that children with HIV have not been put back in hospitals. We will develop workshops to orphanage employees on topics related to pediatric HIV infection. We will also train educators at these orphanages so that they can share their knowledge with other public orphanages.

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