News / Africa

Women Unite to End Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV

South Africa-based group Mothers to Mothers works to reduce HIV transmission from mothers to babies

In Africa, thousands of children are infected with HIV by their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, labor, delivery or breastfeeding. It’s called mother-to-child transmission [MTCT]. A UNAIDS Global Report published in 2009 estimated that 370,000 children contracted HIV during the prenatal and breastfeeding period

But the process can be prevented--developed countries have shown it is possible says Robin Smalley of the South Africa-based organization mothers2mothers.

Smalley says that problem in Sub-Saharan Africa is that there is a “huge inequity that there are fewer [HIV-positive] babies born in USA and Europe combined in a year than in a single African clinic.” Coverage levels are very low in most poor countries.

“We have the medicines easily and inexpensively available to prevent the transmission” she said, “and yet we still have babies being born every day who are HIV-positive.” M2M has now expanded its services to cover countries in East and Southern Africa.

Mothers2mothers was started by Dr. Mitch Besser, an obstetrician from Harvard University in the northern U.S. city of Boston who was working in a hospital in South Africa. Smalley said Besser, who later co-founded mothers2mothers, was shocked by the lack of care for women who had come to seek help with their pregnancies.

“He was seeing this gap in services,” she said, “that was created because there are so few doctors and nurses running everything and they are stressed and overworked and overwhelmed….”

If the mothers don’t receive adequate attention during and after childbirth, many pass on the infection to their babies.

Mothers2mothers has been training young women like Nozi Samela, who learned she was HIV positive when she went for her first pre-natal visit. Nozi now works as a mentor mother with Mothers2Mothers and is continuing with her education.

Mothers are resources...

“We realized that the biggest resources we have are the mothers themselves,” said Smalley. The idea of training HIV-positive mothers and assigning them to prenatal units as “mentor mothers” has been effective, she added. They play an important advisory role giving guidance to other young mothers who have been diagnosed with the HIV virus.

“When a young woman comes in and gets this devastating news,” she said, “immediately a mentor mother is called who can put her arms around her and hold her hand and tell her that she is not alone.”

Because of the social stigma related to HIV, women who test positive are isolated from mainstream society. Smalley says that Mothers2mothers is working to change some of the social and cultural factors that can lead to HIV infection or public rejection of those infected.

There are many young women who share Nozi’s story. She had just finished high school, without prospects for college, she found out that she had contracted the virus from a boyfriend. She says that after being diagnosed she feared that her life was over. “I thought I was going to die.” Now, years later, Nozi works full-time for mothers2mothers while finishing her university degree in accounting.

In South Africa, as in many sub-Saharan countries, there are few jobs available to HIV-positive mothers and few or no social services to help them.

But she and many others have been hired as paid members of a medical team. Nozi is now in a job that allows her to help others while fighting stigma in her community.

 

You May Like

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

Euro falls after European Central Bank announces a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program More

Saudi King’s Death Clears Succession Route

Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef is Saudi Arabia's New Crown Prince-in-waiting More

Cloud Hangs Over US Counterterrorism Efforts in Yemen

Sources say resignations of Yemen's president, government has left US anti-terror operations 'paralyzed,' yet an American military 'footprint' remains More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid