The magic number:
0% HIV transmission
30 Nov 2017: See the change you’re helping to make.
It has been the holy grail of HIV interventions from the start: 0% HIV transmission from mothers to their babies.
Tomorrow is World AIDS Day and at last we have something to celebrate. I wanted to share with you some very exciting news about a key project and to thank you for the impact your support is making.
Building on all the work you have helped us deliver for HIV+ mothers and children, we are currently running a new pilot programme, known as Enable, in the O. R. Tambo district of the Eastern Cape of South Africa. This is an area where more than 25% of mothers are HIV+. It is also phenomenally poor, with unemployment at over 90%. There is no running water, very few houses have electricity, and access to villages and houses is down stony, potholed tracks. In other words, this is a place where any medical intervention will be extremely challenging, let alone one as complex as preventing HIV transmission.
Yet it is in this inhospitable environment that the Enable project has achieved:
- 0% transmission of HIV from mother to child so far
- 84% of children, who were underweight for their age, are now improving or rehabilitated (up from 16% at baseline).
How has Enable achieved this? Central to the success of the project has been the ‘Mentor Mothers’, 30 local women who have been trained to offer targeted interventions on child and maternal health to members of their communities. They seek out the most vulnerable pregnant women, mothers, babies and children in order to provide them with appropriate care and support.
Here is an example of the difference a Mentor Mother can have on a Mother-to-be:
When Nopasika started work as a Mentor Mother, one of her first patients was a 30 year-old mother-to-be, Khethiwe, who was considering going off her HIV medication because of the side effects. Nopasika was able to counsel her to continue her medication and ensure she maintained the correct treatment while breast feeding. Khethiwe now has a healthy child who at 8 months tested HIV negative, is fully immunised and is at a healthy weight. Nopasika will continue to follow mother and child through these crucial early years, supporting the child’s growth and development.
To date, 246 mothers, under the care of our Mentor Mothers, have given birth, of whom 63 were HIV+. Out of those 63, not one baby born has tested positive for HIV. These are early days of course, working with a small sample size, yet the results are promising and offer great potential for developing on a much larger scale.
We are immensely proud of Enable, and grateful to all our supporters including the project’s principal funder, the UBS Optimus Foundation, and the generous support from the proceeds of the cookbook, Nancy’s Table.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. We have some other exciting news in the works, which I’ll let you know about in the coming weeks.
Chairman, One to One Children’s Fund