Salesian Entity Highlights Medical Care Initiatives for Youth with HIV/AIDS in Africa

In Ivory Coast, the Don Bosco House has a psychological care center where trained educators help youth work toward emotional healing. Credit: Salesian Missions

On the annual event of World AIDS Day marked December 1, the leadership of the U.S-based development arm of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB), Salesian Missions, has highlighted initiatives providing medical care and social support for young people living with HIV/AIDS across the globe, including Africa.

In a Thursday, December 1 report, SDB officials say, “Salesian missionaries offer more than 150 medical clinics and hospitals around the globe that handle a wide range of medical care needs and are mostly in rural areas.”

They note that “HIV/AIDS prevention and testing programs are vital components of Salesian health care initiatives in Africa.” 

“The work of Salesian missionaries around the globe goes beyond education to ensure the well-being of our students,” the Director of Salesian Missions, Fr. Gus Baek, has been quoted as saying in the December 1 report.

Fr. Baek adds, “We aim to serve the whole person by making sure that basic needs like health and nutrition are met in addition to other social service needs.”


“Medical programs, particularly those focused on the treatment of HIV/AIDS, ensure that those who are living in poverty still have access to the medical care they need even when they cannot afford to pay for it,” he says.

In the West African nation of Ivory Coast, SDB officials say, “Don Bosco House in Abidjan, the economic capital of the Ivory Coast, has a psychological care center where trained educators help youth work toward emotional healing and well-being.”

They add that the Don Bosco House “provides programs for street children and other at-risk youth, including those with HIV/AIDS.”

“Many have experienced abuse and violence,” officials of the New York-based entity say in the report in reference to the initiative they are facilitating in Ivory Coast.

They continue, “The government of the Ivory Coast, in collaboration with UNICEF, conducted a study into child abuse in the country and found that 86.5 percent of children between the ages of 1-14 have been victims of violent disciplinary action including psychological, emotional or physical abuse.”

More in Africa

To help respond to the issues of violence against children, SDB officials say, “the Salesian community of Abidjan provides several programs and awareness activities related to the protection of children including a psychological care center.”

They note that Ivory Coast “has one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in West Africa.”

“While a wide range of national and international initiatives focus on HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, and testing, the collapse of public health facilities in the north as a result of years of conflict has made the situation worse,” SDB officials say.

Salesian missionaries “have been working with poor youth and their families in Abidjan for more than 25 years,” they indicate in the December 1 report, adding, “They provide social development services, education, and workforce development to help youth break the cycle of poverty and become contributing members of their communities.”

In East Africa, SDB officials say that they are “committed to improving the well-being of children and families in Uganda, a country rebuilding after decades of war while facing a serious increase of HIV/AIDS cases which have left millions of children orphaned.”


“The Don Bosco Children and Life Mission, located in the town of Namugongo just 10 miles northeast of the city of Kampala in Central Uganda, received funding from Salesian Missions donors to support a Salesian program that helps children living in poverty who are HIV positive,” SDB officials say.

They note that the program “provides educational courses, medical treatment, medicines and nutritional meals for youth living with HIV/AIDS.”

“These youth are also eligible to receive counseling, recreation opportunities, medical observation, and critical ART treatments,” they add.

SDB officials say, “The Don Bosco Children and Life Mission provides more than 140 at-risk boys ages 6-18 access to primary, secondary, and technical education, along with sports programming, youth clubs, guidance counseling, and life skills training.”

“Students also have the opportunity to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities including jazz band, brass band, acrobatics, and programs by Youth Alive Uganda, an organization that works with youth to promote social skills and values,” Salesian officials say in the December 1 report.

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World Aids Day was established in 1988 to “honor AIDS victims and focuses on prevention and treatment issues surrounding HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome).”

This year’s theme, “Equalize”, calls on everyone “to work for the proven practical actions needed to address inequalities and help end AIDS.”

Data from UNAIDS on the global HIV response indicates that “during the last two years of COVID-19 and other global crises, progress against the HIV pandemic has faltered, resources have shrunk, and millions of lives are at risk as a result.”

The UNAIDS report indicates that “Young women in Africa remain disproportionately affected by HIV, while coverage of dedicated programs for them remains too low.”

“In 19 high-burden countries in Africa, dedicated combination prevention programs for adolescent girls and young women are operating in only 40 percent of the high HIV incidence locations,” the report further indicates.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.