A father of five facing disaster, he found the hope and help offered by HIV testing, antiretroviral therapy, and IRIS, a model network of linked social and health services that is defining an effective district-level response to HIV/AIDS in the port city of San Pedro.
“I thought I would die, but with the treatments I received, it was as if I was resuscitated,” the 50-year-old says. “I couldn’t keep that for myself alone. …”
Theo is part of the IRIS network: His three youngest children – Alain, 16; Olivier, 9; and Jules, 6 – benefit from educational support, psychosocial support, and free health care, and Theo promotes testing and support for people living with HIV/AIDS through his church and a small NGO. Testing has shown the rest of his family to be sero-negative.
The network model, developed with Emergency Plan support in 2005-06, revolves around a community social center with an affiliated coordinating committee designed to link all social and health services (HIV counseling and testing, prevention of mother-to-child-transmission, ART, palliative care, treatment for TB and sexually transmitted infections, care for orphans and vulnerable children, etc.) for families affected by HIV with the geographic area. At the end of FY 2006, EP partners were providing ART to 548 patients and had provided care for 1,034 orphans and vulnerable children.
Based on an evaluation to be completed this year, the model will be replicated in five sites in 2007, with refinements to include linking of HIV-exposed children’s medical records for for routine immunizations and other health services, improved referrals for treatment of TB and other illnesses, and nutritional support through a cooperative agreement with the World Food Program and UNICEF.