Project #5753

Born Free of HIV in West Africa

by GAIA Vaccine Foundation
Baby Fatoumata
Baby Fatoumata

The newest arrival at GAIA’s Hope Center clinic in Mali is baby Fatoumata! Her mother, Adjiaratou, is a strong member of our prevention program, and she also benefited from our prenatal vitamin donation program from the NGO “Vitamin Angels”. In fact, in 2015 and 2016, we’ve distributed prenatal vitamins for all pregnant women with HIV at five community clinics in Bamako.  Prenatal vitamins provide crucial supplements like folic acid and iron so that babies can be born strong and healthy.

We're doing everything we can to give babies like Fatoumata the best start in life: HIV free and healthy!

Thanks for your continued support!

Fatoumata, siblings, and friends
Fatoumata, siblings, and friends
Koura with boxes of vitamins for Mali
Koura with boxes of vitamins for Mali
Drs. Kone and Tounkara with the GAIA poster
Drs. Kone and Tounkara with the GAIA poster

We’re pleased to announce that our long-term allies in the fight against HIV in Mali, Dr. Koné, HIV specialist at the Hope Center Clinic; and Dr. Tounkara, GAIA’s National Director, shared GAIA’s research at the International Symposium for HIV and Emerging Infectious Diseases (ISHEID) in Marseilles, France!

In fact, your support helped us create the success stories that these doctors were able to share at the conference. During our 10 years of HIV prevention in Sikoro, over 15 thousand pregnant women received HIV testing! Dr. Koné was asked to lead a discussion on this research at the ISHEID conference.  This was his first time traveling outside his home country of Mali, so it was a fantastic opportunity to meet his international colleagues in the realm of HIV/AIDS prevention. 

With your help, we are embarking into our second decade of HIV prevention in Mali! Let’s reach new heights together!


Sleepy babies don
Sleepy babies don't like pictures

It has been a tumultuous year in Mali, in fact, a series of tumultuous years since the 2012 coup d'etat. The national security situation is affecting the work of many international NGOs, but it’s with great relief and pride that we can assure you that our Mother to Child Transmission Prevention program (MTCTP) established in 2005 is still thriving. In fact, we now have a full 10 years of successful data to share with you and the global health community. 15,459 pregnant women have been tested for HIV over the past 10 years, that’s 99% of all the women seen for prenatal care in Sikoro, on the outskirts of Bamako. 268 women tested positive for HIV, and they were enrolled in the MTCTP program, so that their babies could be born HIV free. In fact, anyone who tests positive for HIV is enrolled in a long-term treatment program with a dedicated specialist and pharmacist. Ours was the first clinic to start “decentralizing” HIV care, and last December, the Minister of Health in Bamako visited to learn more about how this model is increasing access to care and prevention among the most resource-poor neighborhoods.

We are especially proud of the HIV testing acceptance rate at our clinic. Compared to other MTCTP clinics in Mali where only 31% of women accept testing, our 99% acceptance rate is an incredible statistic made possible through the work of our dedicated staff of midwives and doctors who ensure that women understand what will be best for them and their infants. 

Of course, the best part of all this is how proud our HIV+ mothers are of their HIV free children. It’s amazing to see these healthy kids grow up each time we’re back in Mali for a visit. Moms love to have their pictures taken, and sometimes they are more enthusiastic about it than their babies who have just woken up from a nap!

In 2016, we plan to turn our focus to expanding this successful program to the other community-run clinics nearby where MTCTP is not running smoothly. After all our years of experience, GAIA’s medical staff is eager to share the incredible advances made possible through donations to this program with their community members. We are actively seeking funding through multiple partnerships to expand MTCTP; we hope you will join us in ensuring this life-saving program continues to benefit even more expecting mothers in Bamako.

 We are so grateful for all the years of your support!

10 years of prevention
10 years of prevention
At GAIA's clinic more women accept HIV testing

I'm writing to you from the European HIV/AIDS Conference where GAIA is presenting our research on Mother to Child Transmission Prevention (MTCTP). Now that we have celebrated 10 years of HIV prevention at the Hope Center Clinic in Sikoro, Mali, we have a decade of data to share with the scientific community and you, our loyal supporters!

 GAIA’s “Chez Rosalie” MTCPT program showed a consistently higher HIV test acceptance rates (over 93%) than reported for the rest of Mali (31% in 2011, UNAIDS/UNGASS Report). That means, pregnant mothers trust us and want to learn their status so they can protect their newborn from HIV.

The trend of reduction of HIV in Sikoro accelerated following introduction of MTCTP, as compared to other prenatal clinics in Bamako. Early introduction of MTCTP program may have lowered the HIV prevalence in Sikoro. 

The number of women and babies requiring MTCTP has decreased with time. Significant reductions in odds of transmission were seen when ARV treatment was provided during pregnancy or to infants immediately after birth. 100% of babies born to MTCTP-adherent mothers were HIV-seronegative.

The United Nations comprehensive approach to MTCTP lists the following components:

  1. Primary prevention of HIV among women of child bearing age
  2. Preventing unintended pregnancy among women living with HIV
  3. Preventing HIV transmission from a woman living with HIV to her infant
  4. Providing appropriate treatment, care and support to women living with HIV and their children and families

At GAIA’s Hope Center Clinic in Sikoro, we developed programs over the years that closely align with the UN priorities:

  • MTCTP began in 2005
  • Peer Education about HIV began in 2006
  • Comprehensive HIV care was established in 2008
  • Nutritional and Peer Support began in 2008
  • Teen Peer Education began in 2012

Our decade of HIV prevention in Sikoro shows that MTCTP interventions are feasible in low-resource settings, and in fact, are most successful when patients have access to local care.  Replication of GAIA’s programs at more community-run clinics in West Africa could significantly reduce the prevalence of HIV among children.

While HIV prevalence in Mali is relatively low at 1.4%, there are 68 000 women over the age of 15 estimated to be HIV infected in 2014. The estimated number of AIDS orphans in Mali is 59 000. (UNAIDS 2014) 

2016 will be the “Year of MTCTP” in Mali, and we aim to join in the national campaign to expand our programs and increase access to care 5-fold.  Currently we test approximately 1,500 pregnant women per year. By expanding to four more clinics, we could test and treat a total of 7,500 women per year.

Please join us to make 2016 the year of ZERO Mother to Child HIV Transmission! We can’t do it without you!

HIV rates have dropped faster at GAIA
HIV rates have dropped faster at GAIA's clinic
Happy mom and HIV-free babe
Happy mom and HIV-free babe
Kids at the clinic
Kids at the clinic

This June we celebrated 10 years of Mother To Child Transmission Prevention (MTCTP) at the Sikoro clinic in Bamako. Of course we had to have a party with the whole community including speeches, masked dancers, drumming, a theatre troupe, and a big, shared meal. Everyone is proud of the progress made by all towards a healthier safer community. It's amazing to think that some of those first HIV-free babies born at the clinic will be teenagers soon!

We also began the preliminary conversations with public health officials about expanding our program to other clinics in the region of Commune 1 (a district of Bamako). At other clinics, MTCTP has not been successful, and there's a lot to do to make sure that proper preventions measures take place. The first steps are to meet with staff at the clinics and determine what is preventing proper MTCTP from taking place. The next step will be staff trainings and community outreach.

The end goal will be to ensure that 100% of women who come in for pre-natal visits are offered free HIV testing and counseling. It's also important that 100% of women who test positive give birth at the clinic so that they have a safe, clean environment to reduce risk for the baby.

The government HIV prevention networks in Mali are making 2016 the year of MTCTP, and the goal is to eliminate this form of transmission entirely. GAIA has proven that we know how to eliminate vertical transmission, and we have 10 years of experience! 

Please join us as we start to grow this program so that we can have a greater effect preventing children in Mali from being born with HIV! Your help has always been crucial to us at GAIA!

Many thanks for your years of support!

Kids at the clinic
Kids at the clinic
Girl at the clinic
Girl at the clinic
Kids at the clinic
Kids at the clinic

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Organization Information

GAIA Vaccine Foundation

Location: Providence, RI - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
GAIA Vaccine Foundation
Providence, ri United States
$4,083 raised of $12,000 goal
72 donations
$7,917 to go
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