Since my last report I wrapped up the dental health screening data collection and educational project because I simply ran out toothbrushes. By the end of this process 508 children were educated on the importance of dental health and 600 toothbrushes were given out. I have compiled my findings and the results are significant and should validate the request for funding continuation of this program. The local dentist’s hope is to receive funding to make it possible for him to put sealants on the children’s six year molar so they will be less likely to decay, which in turn, would prevent the extraction of this adult tooth. I will now be assisting him with the grant writing process. Hopefully, future screenings will reveal a positive change in the dental health of the children of Roatan.
My next project involves HIV/AIDS education and I will be traveling throughout the island with doctors who are doing HIV/AIDS screenings and I will be involved in the educational aspect of these programs. There is barely a basic knowledge of the disease or how it is spread and a huge stigma surrounds those with the disease. The people of Roatan place considerable importance on family and community. However, if a family member has HIV/AIDS and the family finds out about it, that member is banished from the household and the family unit. Because of fear of losing one’s family, many people do not get screened for HIV/AIDS leading the doctors I am working with to believe the prevalence of HIV/AIDS on the island is much higher than is evident. Also, commercial sex is quite a problem here which contributes to an even bigger HIV/AIDS issue. It is my hope that through this education program we can reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS on the island and also mitigate the stigma that surrounds those with this disease.
Once again, I want to thank the Hope Through Healing Hands Foundation and the Niswonger Foundation; this is truly an experience of a lifetime.