Currents News Staff
“This center shows us that there are always people ready to stop and show compassion, who do not yield to the temptation to say, ‘There is nothing to be done,” or ‘It’s impossible to fight this scourge.’ Instead, you have set about finding solutions,” Pope Francis said Sept. 6, 2019.
The DREAM program was born in 2002 and is directed by the Community of Sant’Egidio. It offers anti-retro-viral therapy to people who can’t afford it, or have a hard time finding transportation to access it. DREAM has allowed for the births of 130,000 healthy babies in Africa, children of people with the virus.
The program offers a new public health model based on health education and the participation of beneficiaries to form a new culture: AIDS is no longer a death sentence, but a problem that can be treated. At the same time, patients recognize that access to treatment is free and a right.
“In Africa, people thought it was impossible to do antiretroviral therapy as was done in the West, for various reasons: prejudice, cultural motives, etc.,” Paola Germano General Coordinator, for the DREAM program told Currents News. “We showed this wasn’t true, and we fought to introduce free antiretroviral therapy. These are people who could not have afforded medical treatment on their own.”
More than one year after the pontiff’s visit — in the middle of an unrelenting pandemic — the main challenge continues to be guaranteeing universal access to medication, especially in rural areas.
“HIV was and is still a pandemic. COVID-19 is a pandemic, and we’ll have other pandemics in the future,” Paola Explained. “Being able to continue to work to set up programs like that of the Community of Sant’Egidio, which creates structures and a new health culture in countries means offering a possibility to everyone to not be unprepared.”
Right now the DREAM program is active in 10 countries. With 50 centers and 28 laboratory clinics, it has helped millions of people.