The Mae Tao Clinic, known locally as Dr. Cynthia’s clinic after its founder Dr. Cynthia Maung, is a clinic serving the Burmese refugee population in Mae Sot, Western Thailand, approximately 500 km northwest of Bangkok. In operation since 1989, it serves a population of around 150,000 people who shelter in the mountainous border region of Burma and Thailand.
AIDS Ark is funding the care of 20 HIV+ individuals as of early 2012. All Burmese refugees, the HIV+ population here is in urgent need of long-term access to ARVs and medical care. They and the Mae Tao Clinic have been unable to fund access to antiretrovirals from elsewhere.
AIDS Ark enables HAART medication and full medical care for 85 people with HIV in urgent need through Medical Action Myanmar’s Hlaingthayar clinic. Dinner for One donations in 2012 allowed us to increase funding to this project to support ten additional beneficiaries.
This clinic assists some of the poorest people in Burma.
Dr Frank Smithuis, former head of Medecins Sans Frontiers Burma and the person responsible for saving more lives of people with HIV in Burma than anyone else, now heads up the clinic.
Across the border from Burma, in the state of Manipur, India, HIV+ Burmese refugees are in urgent need of HAART treatment.
As refugees, they are not eligible for free care at the Indian Government clinics.
AIDS Ark provides a grant to FXB India to provide HIV medication and care for 63 beneficiaries currently. This project is a huge priority for us given the extreme need and lack of help otherwise.
AIDS Ark has a long history of support for this project run by Dr. Raju. Originally we provided HIV medication to this region before the start of the government programme. Subsequently, we have continued to support fifty people with HIV/AIDS and their families with nutritional packs and medical support for opportunistic infections that can appear as a result of their HIV infection.
The trustees have set up a separate programme from the estate of Elizabeth Frost to support training and income generation programmes for women with HIV and their families.
We are working with Dr Raju to encourage transition to other funding sources for the Vizag programme as we hope to reorient donations completely toward support of antiretrovirals for those who do not have access or for programmes like the genotype resistance assays.
At the start of 2012 AIDS Ark started funding a new approach to combatting HIV. We are now funding a programme at the Desmund Tutu HIV Foundation in Cape Town to help children with HIV who have become resistant to medications and are failing their first-line ARV medical regimen. The prognosis for these children was poor as without better understanding of reasons for their resistance, they were unlikely to be be successful in follow-on therapies. AIDS Ark is intervening by providing funding for these children to receive genotype resistance blood tests at the cost of £177 per child.
Funding for these tests would otherwise not have been available. With the results from these tests, half these children were then able to be put on alternative effective ARV medications which are freely available from the South African government. The other half of these children needed ARV medicines which have only just come out in the US and which are not yet available in South Africa. Fortunately, with these genotype test results, the US manufacturer of these new medicines has agreed to supply these medicines free of charge to these children in South Africa.
On the back of success at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, AIDS Ark is also funding genotype resistance blood tests for a further thirteen children at the Red Cross Hospital in Cape Town.
These children who also became resistant to their first-line ARVs have since been placed on new drug regimens. Again, half are able to receive medicines available from the South African government and the rest of the children are being supplied medicines free of charge from the US manufacturer.
We are very excited by this effective new way of leveraging AIDS Ark donations to help save lives and the massive impact that we promote with this procedure. We hope to expand genotype resistance programmes moving forward.
AIDS Ark funded £1,000 toward the costs of this project with a request that it be used to serve the needs of HIV+ members in need of accessing medical treatment. This project does wonderful community work and is headed by Ian Greer whose work is well known to the AIDS Ark organisation. The trustees visited this programme in January 2011. Their HIV-related work ensures that HIV+ people in their care have the transportation necessary to attend appointments with HIV specialists and to maintain adherence to their treatment regimes.
Baphumelele provides in-home hospice services. AIDS Ark helps to fund the salaries of a professional nurse and two senior carers who provide home medical services and support to HIV+ individuals living near the Baphumelele Respite Care Centre. Their initiative serves approximately 50 HIV+ individuals and their families. AIDS Ark trustees visited this programme in January 2011.
AIDS Ark has agreed to support the organisation with interim funding as it works to obtain state support.