Claribel Otáñez Díaz: [email protected]
Claribel Otáñez Díaz is a medical student at Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She currently serves as the Local Officer on Sexual and Reproductive Health including HIV/AIDS of ODEM-Dominican Republic.
Mabel Guerrero Espino: [email protected]
Mabel Guerrero Espino is a second-year medical student at the Iberoamerican University in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She currently serves as the Local Officer on Sexual and Reproductive Health including HIV/AIDS of ODEM-Dominican Republic.
ODEM- Dominican Republic
The Pink House: A hope for children with HIV and AIDS
In 2018, an estimated 70,000 Dominicans were living with HIV, out of the 10 million total population. Where 2,700 new HIV infections occurred. Orphans children prevalence due to AIDS showed 42,000 cases (1).
Most children who have HIV got it from their mother when she was pregnant, during the birth process, or from breastfeeding (2). For children living with HIV, AIDs-related illnesses are still among the leading causes of infant mortality (3). To prevent mother-to-child transmission they must receive antiretroviral treatment during pregnancy and childbirth, in some cases undergo a C-section and babies receive HIV medications in the first 4 to 6 weeks of life and do not breastfed.
The Dominican Republic as a third-world country has a strong stigma and discrimination who have made it difficult for some HIV parents to gain access to care and find and sustain a job. Reasons that oblige parents to abandon their infected child, making them social outcasts.
The Pink House is the only home that welcomes children of both genders, whose ages range from newborns to 15 years, orphans or who were abandoned in hospitals and on the streets because of the disease. The main objective of the pink house is to contribute to improving the quality of life of children, covering the basic needs of food, health, and education. That favors its development and growth. All thanks to Loly, an orphan girl, 6 years old, who inherited from her parents the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) mobilizing the entire Dominican society and the international community through the anecdote of her particular dream of “living all together in a pink house“.
“Pinta mi mundo de Rosa” is the name that received the activity created by SCORA members, it consists of holding parties to meet and share with children, and at the same time make calls for donations for the house , as a way to help supply the basic needs of it. More than fun and donations, SCORA’s main objective is to break the stigma towards these children, demonstrating to Dominican society that they are more than the condition they live with.
We created a bond full of love with the 18 children and nuns that help in the house. On that afternoon of March we laughed, jumped, danced, painted faces, drew, made costume games and also played the famous “Sillita”. As well we delivered donations of cleaning products and food.
Talking and meeting these children has been a wonderful thing for each of us. Knowing their dreams and goals made us understand that they know and understand their illness and that this is not an impediment to living a happy life. As medical students it’s important that we fight to end the stigma towards patients with HIV / AIDS that currently exists. We must join efforts to educate society in relation to providing decent treat and be able to offer adequate treatments and supports for a better quality of life.
- Dominican Republic. (2020). Retrieved 20 January 2020, from: https://www.unaids.org/en/regionscountries/countries/dominicanrepublic
- Cold, F., Health, E., Disease, H., Disease, L., Management, P., & Conditions, S. et al. (2020). Children With HIV and AIDS: An Overview. Retrieved 20 January 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/hiv-aids/guide/hiv-in-children#1
- Dominican Republic. (2020). Retrieved 20 January 2020, from https://www.unaids.org/en/regionscountries/countries/dominicanrepublic