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Comprehensive Family Care for Victims of HIV/AIDS in Botswana

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The southern African nation of Botswana has one of the highest rates of HIV in the world. Nearly 25 percent of all adults in the country are infected with the virus. Only the nearby kingdom of Swaziland has a higher rate.

But Botswana is also remarkable for its response to the epidemic. It has one of the most comprehensive and effective HIV treatment programs in Africa. Transmission of HIV from infected mothers to their fetuses and newborn babies has been brought down to just 4 percent.

A decade ago, Botswana was facing a national crisis as AIDS appeared on the verge of decimating the country’s adult population. Now, Botswana provides free, life-saving AIDS drugs to almost all of its citizens who need them. (www.npr.org)

Not only has the incidence of new HIV/AIDS cases in Botswana decreased significantly, there has also been encouraging progress to improve the lives of individuals already living with the disease.

PCI partnered with 13 local organizations to adapt the Botswana Ministry of Local Government’s family care model as the Comprehensive Family Care (CFC) model. CFC is a vast improvement from the model previously in place – individual service model. Orphans, vulnerable children and persons living with HIV/AIDS are vulnerable both due to illness and gaps in household-level care systems. Interventions that focus on identifying and addressing the needs of vulnerable individuals – without adequately assessing and addressing needs at household levels often fail to address causes of root vulnerability.

Piloted through Building Bridges, a President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), PCI refined the CFC model and scaled up implementation with help from local organizations through its current PEPFAR-funded project.

Comprehensive Family Care utilizes vulnerable individuals as entry points to households. Trained community workers assess and identify priority needs of all household members, create individual action plans, provide service referrals and follow up.

PCI is supporting the government of Botswana to improve the quality of life and self sufficiency of vulnerable families in Botswana. PCI believes that communities best understand their own needs, and with the right support, can lead the way in developing appropriate, low-cost solutions to best address the comprehensive needs of individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS.