Maybe it’s because I’ve spent the last week around so many precious babies, but this video from UNICEF moved me to tears.
Here’s the sad news: Of the 2.1 million children living with HIV globally, 90% live in sub-Saharan Africa, and every day, 1,400 infants are infected with HIV by their mothers through pregnancy, labor and delivery, and breastfeeding. More than half of those babies will die before the age of 2 if not treated with drugs. And yet anti-retroviral medications, given at the right time, can prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child and have proven remarkably effective.
The good news is that UNICEF has developed the Mother/Baby Pack as a simple, complete, pre-packaged set of drugs that can be given to expectant mothers by health-care workers during pregnancy. Even in countries where poor women live far from clinics, 77% of women will make at least one prenatal visit – and if mandatory HIV testing takes place, the women can be given the drugs that will prevent her from passing HIV along to her child – and the counseling to ensure that she can follow the program.
UNICEF developed the Mother-Baby Pack based on an idea developed by health workers in Lesotho, a country where 1 in 4 people are infected with HIV. Since 2007, the government and UNICEF have mounted a concerted effort to promote the program, and mother/child transmission rates have dropped dramatically to 11%. The Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission program is now offered in virtually all health clinics in Lesotho, and the Mother-Baby pack will be rolled out this year in Cameroon, Kenya and Zambia as well.
Malekena, the beautiful, sad-faced, HIV+ expectant mother in the video, who was counseled by nurses at the clinic and given a package of ARV drugs, is now the proud mother of Mankhube, her miracle baby girl, who is healthy, chubby and HIV-free.
I’m giving $100 today to buy a Mother-Baby Pack (they cost $87.50) so another mother in Africa can experience that same miracle of a healthy baby. You can join me by clicking here.
As woman living with AIDS(albeit in US), enough can not be said about the #1 best key to preventing spread of HIV/AIDS…education.
You know how passionate I am about trying to facilitate the awakening of society to such a simple premise. I greatly admire the work being done on the world-wide, particularly in regards to women. By and large….we are the forgotten victims of the pandemic.
In large part, at least here in the United States(even in larger more open-minded parts of country) is the continued myth of HIV/AIDS only being gay male disease.
Particularly along the Southern Bible Belt where I live…..it is extremely difficult to be able to address groups that need to really wake up and smell the coffee…….baby boomers, seniors getting their groove back thanks to such wonder drugs as Viagra. Churches have previously requested if Aids Care Services has women living with HIV/AIDS would be comfortable addressing their church groups. Interestingly….when they were advised yes….arrangements always fell through.
I have rambled too long, you of course can summarize if need be.
I will be writing soon about new training am hoping to be part of through Aids Alliance for women, children and families. It is called ASCEND. Training enables someone like me to be able to more effectively do community outreach. Helping women realize they can and should be their own best advocate.
Talk again soon!
The stats are horrifying: 2.1 million children with HIV, 90% live in sub Saharan Africa, 1400 infected with HIV by their mothers EVERY DAY …
Many grateful thanks to UNICEF for not giving up on these children and coming up with the Mother/Baby packs. And to Betty for spreading the word 🙂