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About Sickkids
About SickKids

December 1, 2014

Marking World AIDS Day Dec. 1

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) has been caring for HIV-infected and exposed children for more than 26 years. World AIDS Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of the work SickKids’ HIV Family-Centred Care Program is doing.

 “Getting to Zero” is the World AIDS Campaign theme for World AIDS Day since 2010. The campaign strives for zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.

Zero new HIV infections: All pregnant women in Ontario should be tested for HIV. With appropriate antiretroviral treatment (ARV), transmission of HIV to babies born to mothers with HIV is zero. SickKids’ HIV Family-Centred Care Program has counselled pregnant women on the use of ARV medications during pregnancy for over 20 years and has achieved great success. When a woman’s viral load is fully suppressed during pregnancy, when she does not breastfeed and when the baby receives ARVs after delivery, there have been no examples of newly infected infants. This is great news as the number of babies of HIV-positive mothers monitored by SickKids has nearly tripled in the past 14 years.

Zero discrimination: Use of teen support groups in clinic and outreach education has provided the greatest opportunity for the SickKids team to change beliefs and attitudes towards people infected, thus increasing acceptance of self and others with HIV.

Zero AIDS-related deaths: The availability of triple-therapy ARVs for children has prevented the loss of many lives. The SickKids HIV Family-Centred Care Program has not had any deaths from HIV for more than 14 years. Infected children are growing up and graduating to adult care. Also, many are going on to higher education at colleges and universities.  In the past year, the program has transitioned five more teens to adult clinics. So far, six graduates have come back as parents of uninfected children. See Positively Good to Go.

The SickKids HIV/AIDS team (clockwise from left):  Arlette Lefebvre, Wayne Moore, Stanley Read, Cheryl Arneson, Ari Bitnun, Alda Fernandes-Penne, Georgina MacDougall, Debra Louch, Robyn Salter.
The SickKids HIV/AIDS team (clockwise from left): Arlette Lefebvre, Wayne Moore, Stanley Read, Cheryl Arneson, Ari Bitnun, Alda Fernandes-Penne, Georgina MacDougall, Debra Louch, Robyn Salter.