Established in 2003, the Children’s Program offers emotional and educational support and medical services for over 400 children with HIV aged 3 to 15 in Latin America and the Caribbean. It strives to help children achieve a healthy adolescence that may otherwise elude them given their precarious health situation by using three different components:
1. Age-appropriate counseling through one-on-one sessions with a social worker trained to address youth developmental issues, including those related to chronic health issues.
2. Intensive one-on-one psychotherapy for children with acute distress.
3. Multiple play activities designed to promote self-esteem, enhance coping skills, and promote important health goals (such as adherence to antiviral drug regimens).
An integral part of our Children’s Program is the initiative “Aprendo a Amarme y a Cuidarme” (Learning to love and take care of myself), which provides children with the tools they need to prepare for their medical consultations and to achieve treatment adherence. Through this program, the children learn how to better express their feelings and emotions as well as increase their confidence and social skills, making their health a priority in their own way which helps to ensure adherence to treatment.
The objectives of the Children’s Program are to improve the wellbeing of children with HIV in order to increase their adherence to treatment, increase their knowledge of HIV and AIDS, ensure attendance to routine medical appointments, provide support that enables the children to enjoy their childhood, and assist all children in realizing their education potential. By introducing the three components and through regular collaboration with parents and personal physicians of the students, the staff creates a program tailored to each child that assists this vulnerable population.