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Central African Republic
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The charity began its work in Central African Republic (CAR) in 1992 with the opening of the first SOS Children's Village in Bangui. SOS Children's Villages runs a HIV prevention programme through its school and the Medical and Social centres in Bangui, and helps nearly 6,000 orphaned children. … more about our charity work in Central African Republic

World AIDS day: Learning to live with AIDS

World AIDS day: Learning to live with AIDS

Sylvie, 38, is a widow from the Central African Republic. HIV positive, she struggled to cope with her illness and providing care for her four children alone. Now part of the SOS Family Strengthening Programme, her life has transformed, and thanks to support from SOS Children, she has learnt to live a relatively normal life with the disease.

Sylvie’s husband died nearly four months after the birth of her oldest baby. She had no means to support her children, and was forced to fend for food, going into local fields with her neighbour and making meals from vegetables. Her children had to drop out of school when Sylvie was unable to afford the fees. She noticed that her health was rapidly getting worse, but she could not afford to see a doctor. Sylvie says “I had no money with nobody to help me.”

When staff from SOS Children came across Sylvie and her family, she was already in the terminal phase of the HIV. Recognising the symptoms of AIDS, the SOS Social Worker immediately recommended Sylvie take a test.

"I was shocked when I heard the news of my HIV status” Sylvie says “I thought at first that it was a joke as I never would have imagined that this could happen to me.” She went through a difficult time as she tried to adjust to the news the doctor gave her. “During that period I was sad and I felt completely cut off from the outside society” she says. “I was sure that I will die very soon and I wondered how my children would do. I couldn't sleep for several months.“

She was nervous about how she could live with AIDS, and was concerned about the expense of the treatment. “The only knowledge I had from AIDS was that it is a very dangerous disease that requires a lot of money for the follow-up” she says. “I had no money for the follow-up. I was completely desperate.”

The SOS Family Strengthening Programme stepped in to finance her treatment. As well as receiving medication, Sylvie now attends the hospital on a regular basis for the doctor to monitor her progress.

Her children have also benefited from the programme with free medical care and payment of school fees. Her family receives food supplies twice a month. She says “It allows my children to have a balanced diet and it plays a very important role in the antiretroviral therapy I have every day.”

Sylvie has noticed the impact the support has had on her life. “Some years ago, I was unable to stand up for more than ten minutes. I lacked appetite and I vomited all the time. But today I feel better. I can even do some works I couldn't do a few years ago, like fetch the water from the tap/the river, clean the house, do the dishes, split wood or work on the field” she says.

Gradually, Sylvie was able to come to terms with living with the disease. "I finally accepted my situation and started living normally with the disease. I thank God for the support I have already received and for what I am still receiving. I know that I would already be dead without the support of this programme. I am so thankful to SOS Children.”

SOS Children support thousands of families affected by HIV/AIDS to live with the disease. Find out more about our Family Strengthening Programmes.