I want to go back

Hear from one of our HIV Peer Educators

1

Earlier this year, AHC began an exciting new HIV Peer Educator program. The aim of the program is to train children infected with HIV to become peer educators so that they can go on to help other HIV infected children cope with their condition and learn how to maintain a high quality of life despite the many challenges they will face.

Last week, we had the opportunity to meet and speak with one of the 22 peer educators trained this year. Not only was 15-year-old Kaemra* one of the most kind and courageous young boys we had ever met, but even more unbelievable, we learned that he is inspiring young orphan children infected with HIV to return to school like he did shortly after joining the peer educator program. Here is his story.

*Patient’s name has been changed for confidentiality

 

Kaemra’s* Story

In 2004, Kaemra fell ill with a high fever, cough and stomach ache so his father brought him to AHC for medical attention. After being assessed by AHC medical staff – as well as learning from the father that Kaemra’s mother passed away in 2000 and he suspected it was due to HIV/AIDS though tests were never able to be done – it was believed that HIV was the cause for Kaemra’s sickness. The team provided pre and post HIV counseling to his father, and Kaemra was then tested for HIV. Unfortunately, the test results came back positive for HIV as well as Tuberculosis.

As Kaemra was only six years old, after counseling sessions with AHC’s HIV Counselor his father decided not to tell him of his condition just yet. In Cambodia, there is a stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and Kaemra’s father did not want him to be ostracized at school as a result of telling others of his condition before he was old enough to understand what it all meant.

For the next two years, Kaemra came to AHC frequently for treatment. The HIV Homecare team traveled to his house once a week as well to provide counseling, educate about safe hygiene practices, and check on how his family was both storing and providing his medicine.

Over the years of being treated by AHC doctors, Kaemra came to understand that he had a chronic condition. When he was eight years old, he asked his father if he had HIV. At the time he asked, his father thought he was finally old enough to understand so he told him the truth.

We asked Kaemra how he felt when he found out it was HIV and he told us,

“I was very scared and afraid but from what I learned in school, I knew there was medicine for people with HIV to help make their lives life longer.”

Since 2004, Kaemra has been receiving prophylaxis treatment and tuberculosis treatment here at AHC and faring quite well. In 2012 however, his CD4 count dropped dramatically which meant it was time to start Antiretroviral Therapy as soon as possible.

A week later he started the treatment and as is common, he came down with side effects to the medicine and was admitted to the Inpatient Department where he stayed for four days. It was here that Kaemra’s behavior changed as he became sad and depressed and did not want to return to school.

When we asked Kaemra what happened next, he said,

“I quit school for one year because I had a skin infection from the medicine and I didn’t want my classmates to suspect I had HIV. But now after talking with other peer educators who are the same as me, I am confident I can still study with the infection so I decided to return to school. I am happy to be a peer educator now and encourage orphans who have HIV that they can still go to school too like I do, because most of them do not have parents to teach them about HIV and how they can still have a good quality of life while living with HIV.”

__________________________________

15-year-old Kaemra comes to AHC once a week after school to be a peer educator for other young children living with HIV. So far, he has helped over 30 children learn how to cope with their condition and maintain a high quality of life despite the many challenges they will face.

We are all so proud of Kaemra and the 21 other peer educators just like him. The difference they are making in other children’s lives is incomparable, and their courage commendable.

To read more about AHC’s HIV Peer Educator Program, please check out the full article here and learn more about our HIV/Homecare Unit here.

__________________________________

How can you support more children like Kaemra?

  • Donate to AHC here!
  • Share this article with your friends and family to help spread awareness about HIV in Cambodia and encourage others to support our program.
  • Fund raise for AHC with your friends and family back home. See what others have done in the past here.
  • Stayed tuned to AHC’s facebook and twitter for more great stories coming your way!
  • Shop on Amazon and simply select ‘Angkor Hospital For Children Inc’ as your charitable organization to support – 0.5% of all your purchases will be donated to AHC!

Please contact AHC with any questions or inquires you may have here: [email protected]

Share Button