In April, a DREAM delegation visited the Cubal centre in Angola. A day hospital small in size, it is extremely important for the population of the vast surrounding rural area, an enormous, completely isolated place, where a centre of excellence – free, what’s more – for the treatment and prevention of AIDS is really something precious. After circa a year and a half of activities – administered by DREAM and the Teresian Sisters working in partnership – there is a growing number of patients, who are well and who testify to the prospect of hope and treatment triumphing over resignation and disease. A small group of children who are born free of AIDS is growing too.
In fact, nearly 1500 pregnant women have been tested, nearly all those living in the neighbourhood. Around 80 of them are on antiretroviral therapy, and some two dozen children have already been born healthy to HIV-positive mothers. These may seem like modest figures, but they are significant insofar as they indicate the reversal of a trend and the power of the dream of DREAM to become a reality. In the rural and distant world of Cubal and its surroundings, the objective of giving birth to a generation of AIDS-free children seems nearly close-at-hand.
This year, the DREAM centre started to carry out screening among people infected by TB who are hospitalised in the neighbouring dispensary. This is very important, given the acknowledged link between AIDS and TB: the prevalence found was 17.5% and several patients have already been put on antiretroviral treatment. The objective – as may be seen – is to offer hope and treatment to all those people whose path crosses that of DREAM. The centre, together with the dispensary, is bound to be practically a must-visit place for a population that can’t really count on much more, and Cubal thus appears as a true point of reference, as an opportunity for the salvation of many.
And this is why the DREAM centre is destined to grow. Plans in the pipeline include a significant expansion of the laboratory and the construction of new premises. Another aim is to seek to be more successful in tackling the isolated conditions unfortunately facing Cubal. It is precisely to break this isolation that experiments with video-conferences via internet/satellite will shortly start taking place, with the aim of communicating on a frequent basis.