Clinic-frontToday I traveled to the health clinic run by the Friends Women’s Association that I will be working with to raise funds. The clinic is run by women, and is located in Kamenge, a poor district a few kilometers outside Bujumbura.

The clinic started in 2003 in a house in another location, while the current building was constructed with the help of work camp volunteers from the U.S., Canada, Burundi, and other countries in Africa. They are now working for this site to be certified by the Department of Health so that they can resume accepting new patients. When they finish construction of a waiting room and some additional bathrooms, they can be certified to do HIV testing, and then with additional buildings they will expand their work to comprehensive HIV/AIDS care. This will include everything from treatment with antiretrovirals to psychological counseling to income generating projects.

The framework behind their work, with the acronym “REAL” includes addressing recovery, empowerment, AIDS actions, and leadership (specifically of women). Read more about the clinic here.

I don’t know if there are estimates of the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in KameClinic-newbldgnge specifically, but the World Bank estimates that Burundi as a whole has an infection rate of 11.2%, and in a preliminary test of 17 people done by the clinic, 3 people were HIV positive. While that rate is nowhere near what it is in some African countries further south (with rates in the 30 or 40%), it still a major problem for development.

According to a 2005 UNICEF report, there are an estimated 250,000 children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Burundi (and also that there are 970,000 who are orphans or vulnerable children from all causes combined).

I’ve recently been reading 28: stories of AIDS in Africa in which 28 people in sub-Saharan Africa descClinic-Lab2ribe their life with AIDS and, in many cases, their remarkable efforts to help others overcome stigmatization and receive treatment. I highly recommend it. Stephanie Nolen, the author, included 28 stories to reference the estimated 28 million people currently infected with HIV/AIDS in Africa. That’s a lot of people who have a disease that can be treated effectively, even in impoverished areas, even in conflict zones, if we would commit the resources.

In other news, the FNL peace talks are continuing, but they are struggling as rebel and government forces continue to battle each other outside the capital.

See more photos here.