Pregnant Women and Babies
No child should be born with HIV, but without intervention, one in three babies born to mothers living with HIV will contract the virus either in the womb, at birth or while being breastfed.
With the correct treatment, care and support it is possible to almost guarantee children will be born HIV free. One to One Children’s Fund aim to eradicate mother to child HIV transmission in communities where we work by supporting pregnant women throughout pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.
Patients tell us that they are very pleased with our support, we get good feedback. They say we are easier to talk to than nurses because we are not ‘outside’ people. We are from the community and so it is possible for them to build a relationship with us.
– Thandenka, Community Health Worker, South Africa
In South Africa 29% of pregnant women are living with HIV, yet fewer than 40% of pregnant women attend antenatal check-ups before 20 weeks gestation. Attendance is low due to poverty, lack of knowledge and cultural taboos.
We employ Community Health Workers (CHWs), who are themselves living with HIV, to strengthen the link between communities and clinics and ensure we support the mothers and children throughout the period when HIV can be transmitted. They play a critical role breaking down access and knowledge barriers around HIV and pregnancy, which can potentially save the mother and her unborn child’s lives.
CHWs identify pregnant mothers and support them to attend antenatal appointments, test for HIV and adhere to treatment. They also educate mothers and fathers on the virus and help them overcome stigma, as women with partners who are supportive are more likely to avoid transmitting the virus to their baby.
After the birth, our CHWs support new mothers and fathers to ensure babies are tested and access treatment when necessary, keeping families healthy through a vital ‘continuum of care’.
Between 30% and 45% of HIV positive women who are not accessing treatment will pass the virus on to their babies.
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