World AIDS Day: To protect children, we must empower and support parents and caregivers affected by HIV and AIDS

This post, authored by Coalition Chair, Lisa Bohmer, originally appeared on the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation blog.

Recently, I chaired the annual business meeting of the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDSoffsite link in Capetown, South Africa. These meetings are a tremendous opportunity to meet with experts from around the world who conduct research, work with communities directly and advocate on behalf of the most vulnerable children, including those affected by HIV and AIDS. In particular, I was able to hear from women living with HIV who also serve as  Coalition Ambassadors and advocate for the needs of young children and their caregivers within their countries and beyond. By sharing their own stories, these women are able to draw attention to critical needs facing young children and their families.

Our Coalition Ambassadors gave me a strong reminder of the ways we can empower people living with HIV by seeing them as “whole people,” with complex strengths and challenges, and with families to care for — as opposed to seeing them through the narrow prism of HIV — thereby solely defining them by their disease status. This is important for many reasons, including for ensuring that their young children get the support and care they need. For children born into families affected by HIV, often our efforts are too narrowly focused, missing critical opportunities to ensure parents and caregivers have what they need to ensure that these children not only survive, but also thrive. The thrive agenda is more important than ever given the challenges faced by caregivers living with HIV.

Read the blog in its entirety here.