Now Is the Time: Harnessing global momentum to achieve progress for children and adolescents affected by HIV

*This piece, authored by Coalition Member, Cecilia Kihara of Frontline AIDS, was originally published on POZ.

In a small town in Nigeria, there is an 18-year-old orphan — we’ll call her Oluleye, or Leye for short — supporting herself and her siblings through sex work. Many times, she does not have condoms. Leye discovers she’s pregnant, and she’s scared she may be HIV positive as well as one of her clients died of tuberculosis.

There is no clinic in or anywhere near Leye’s village, let alone one providing comprehensive medical treatment for HIV. Even if she were to learn that antiretroviral therapy could keep her healthy and protect her unborn child from contracting HIV, she would need to travel a long distance to receive it. As a sex worker, she worries that she would be turned away from a facility or even arrested once she got there. Then who would care for her family?

With these obstacles in mind, Leye believes she’s better off not knowing her status. She eventually gives birth to an HIV-positive daughter.

Leye may not be “real,” but her story is the reality for many children and adolescents throughout the world. Members of the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS (the Coalition) hear such accounts every day. Fortunately, the global community has an opportunity to help children and adolescents living with and affected by HIV — like Leye, her siblings, and her infant daughter — if we act now.

Read the full story here.