HIV does not discriminate against age or gender. Thousands of children around the world live with the virus and Panama does not escape this crude reality.
Fortunately there is AID FOR AIDS, an organization with the mission of improving the quality of life for children affected by this epidemic. The Director of this foundation’s office in Panama, Trina Maria Aguais, explained that, at the Hospital del Niño there is a care center for children and adolescents living with HIV or AIDS. At AID FOR AIDS “we teach these children to love, take good care, and protect themselves because this are factors that will help us reduce the HIV statistics.”
At the Hospital, there is also a center to train youth and community leaders where HIV treatment is also offered. Despite the success of the program led by AID FOR AIDS, there are also some difficulties along the way.
One of the main problems is lack of adherence to the treatment by patients and their families, especially when the child reaches adolescence. During this age period, the patients become more autonomous and also somewhat irresponsible.
According to data available at AID FOR AIDS, there are 173 children on antiretroviral treatment at the Hospital del Niño and 37 more receive treatment from Panama´s Social Security (known as Caja del Seguro Social).