Mother taking her ARV
From the onset of the PMTCT program that Mansa NZP+ has been implementing with support from Firelight Foundation they knew that the Community Based Volunteers (CBVs) would become a critical component of HIV/AIDS care and prevention. They increased their effectiveness by making them vital members of multidisciplinary HIV teams within the health facilities. They also provided tailor-made and appropriate training. The buy-in of medical staff was essential to the program's success, since CBVs would report to a nurse at each facility and participate in clinical meetings.
Mansa NZP+ also knew that trained CBVs would do more than support their clients' adherence to treatment. If the CBVs were based within the health facilities and integrated into their staff, this would facilitate crucial connections between the facilities and the communities where the CBVs lived.
The CBV training program has been transformative: it created a single, expanded circle of care and treatment, rather than adding a loop of home-based, community care that would be a satellite or appendage of the health facility. And, because people living with AIDS (PLHA) were the priority for recruitment as CBVs, the program stood to cement other, important connections by giving PLHA a vital and rewarding role in the day-to-day operations of the health facilities.
Celia is testament to that succcess.
The stress from finding out you have HIV as well as from having to make big changes in your life can lead to physical problems such as headaches, upset stomach, irritability and difficulty concentrating like what I went through, narrates Cecilia. But with support from a CBV, she was able to realize what she had to do to protect her unborn child.
" The volunteer was so wonderful as she had the experience on how PMTCT has worked for her. She helped me through the stages of grief. She also supported me as I disclosed my status to my family. She also walked me through the clinic and helped through until I was put on the ARVs the medication that can prolong my life and see my child grow."