In the global fight to get to zero new HIV infections, Direct Relief health center partners like Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Board (CBCHB) – one of the largest organizations fighting HIV/AIDS in Cameroon – are on the front lines of the effort.
This World Aids Day, Direct Relief is honored to spotlight CBCHB, which works in six of Cameroon’s 10 regions and is a part of both Direct Relief’s Diflucan® Partnership Program as well as the HIV Rapid Test Donation Program to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Through the Diflucan® Partnership Program, Pfizer’s antifungal medicine Diflucan® (fluconazole) is made available free of charge for the treatment of cryptococcal meningitis and esophageal candidiasis, two opportunistic infections associated with HIV/AIDS, to governments and nongovernmental organizations in developing countries. The Diflucan Partnership has been supporting HIV/AIDS programs in over 60 countries since 2002. CBCHB has been part of this program since 2005.
Mr. Emmanuel Nshom, CBCHB Care and Prevention Manager said, “Many of our patients cannot afford to pay for their medication… this is a major success because the Diflucan® Partnership Program has actually removed the cost barrier.”
While many challenges still remain for people coming to the clinic to manage their HIV care, Mr. Nshom said their partnership with Direct Relief through the Diflucan Program has earned them recognition for their services.
“In both Bamenda and nationally, our organization is viewed as the leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” he said.
Beyond helping people with HIV manage serious infections, CBCHB has also made strides in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
CBCHB Laboratory Supervisor, Mr. Samuel Tancho, said that “because of the HIV Rapid Test Donation Program for PMTCT, CBCHB has tested far more women than would have otherwise been possible. Based on the test results that were obtained, we were able to intervene and save many more babies from HIV infection.”
Since 2002, with support of the HIV Rapid Test Donation Program, CBCHB reported providing HIV testing to over 450,000 pregnant women, of which approximately 7% tested HIV positive. More than 24,000 women that tested HIV positive were provided with anti-retroviral therapy to significantly reduce the risk of transmission of HIV to their baby.
Every day, approximately 1,000 children worldwide become infected with HIV, over 90 percent through mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. But with appropriate care and treatment, the rate of HIV transmission from mother to child can be reduced to less than 5 percent.
HIV testing for pregnant women and ensuring that women know their status is the first step in stopping the spread of the virus from mother to child. Since 2002, the HIV Rapid Test Donation Program, has provided nearly 24 million rapid HIV tests free-of-charge to Ministries of Health and non-governmental organizations providing HIV testing and counseling services in 43 developing countries.
By working with amazing partners like CBCHB, all who are a part of Direct Relief are helping further the fight to end HIV/AIDS.