In the first 5 months of 2020, GAIA tested a total of 546 pregnant women for HIV at the Sikoro Health Clinic as part of the Mother to Child Transmission Prevention Program. As always, we have continued to provide counseling services to women who accept them, as well as connection to resources and access to antiretroviral medication for anyone who tests positive. Testing has continued through June and July, and more recent figures should be available soon.
In addition to these women, another 163 women (of a total of 197 individuals) received HIV testing by the end of May through the Sikoro Free Testing Program at Hope Center Clinic. Access to free testing is essential to maintaining the health of the community, connecting HIV-positive individuals to the necessary resources, and dismantling the stigma around living with HIV.
As the number of active COVID-19 cases is stabilizing and daily new cases are mostly declining, it is crucial to increase access to HIV testing. Lockdown circumstances and social distancing measures have presented a potential obstacle to HIV testing and treatment for some. GAIA continues to test pregnant women and other community members, and we are focused on the mission of Born Free of HIV in West Africa as we navigate these unprecedented times.
Donations will help support GAIA in providing more HIV testing to the community in Sikoro for the remainder of the year. It will help us to prevent future mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and to continue working toward new technologies (such as the Pratt Pouch) to eliminate mother-to-child transmission in the future.
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