Preventing HIV in South African Babies

by Children's Rights Centre (CRC)

The support from donors through the Global Giving site is deeply appreciated and acknowledged. Your contributions have allowed us to continue campaigning for the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) to strive for an aware generation of mothers knowing that HIV transmission from mother to child is preventable and has the potential to greatly influence all future generations of South Africans.

The Children’s Rights Centre which is the Secretariat of the Yezingane Network ran a successful awareness raising PMTCT campaign during the past two years (2013-2014). The next step of the PMTCT Campaign is to mobilize, engage and build the capacity of Yezingane Network member organizations working at provincial level on understanding and championing initiatives aimed at scaling up the prevention of Mother–to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) through workshops, community dialogues and information sharing. These initiatives will also focus on the promotion of safe breastfeeding. This can only be actioned once we have raised enough funds to roll out the program hence we are continuously asking all our donors, national and international to kindly continue supporting us by means of donations.

The Children’s Rights Centre and the Yezingane Network will continue to utilize the various communication channels of TV, radio, print and digital media to direct messages across South Africa to a wide variety of women that includes mothers and women who are planning on a pregnancy.

As a means to strengthening collaboration and partnership around PMTCT, it is important that the youth, women and men’s sectors are included in all initiatives. In light of this inter-sectorial meetings will be held to enhance the knowledge of PMTCT and breastfeeding. These collaborations can only result in positive outcomes for the prevention of mother to child transmission and will assist in working towards the Children’s Sector’s vision of 3 Zero’s:

  • Zero New Infections in babies           
  • Zero AIDS-related child deaths
  • Zero tolerance for child rights violations

We look forward to the continued support of donors and appreciate your generosity for it is only through our combined efforts that we prevent HIV in babies.

Infant Feeding Booklet
Infant Feeding Booklet

The World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is the greatest outreach vehicle for the breastfeeding movement being celebrated in over 120 countries. Officially it is celebrated from 1 - 7 August.

Children’s Rights Centre in partnership with the Yezingane Network would like to stress out the importance of Breast feeding to all mothers and those still expecting, especially the HIV-positive mothers.

In the past HIV-positive women were discouraged from breastfeeding (told not to breastfeed). They were told to formula feed their babies. However, nowadays the South African Department of Health encourages HIV-positive women to breastfeed for 12 months, if she is covered by three antiretroviral medicines (ART) while breastfeeding and her baby receives six weeks of Nevirapine, or if her baby receives Nevirapine for the entire breastfeeding period (and up to one week after she last breastfeeds)

HIV Positive mothers are encouraged to exclusively breastfeed their babies, meaning they must only give their babies breastmilk (and the medicine prescribed by the doctor or clinic) and nothing else (no other fluids like water, tea, formula, juice or food) until your baby is 6 months old. If you don’t exclusively breastfeed (i.e. you give your baby breastmilk and other foods or liquids) it is called mixed feeding. Mixed feeding poses a risk, as the other substances may irritate your baby’s stomach and cause small cuts, which will increase the risk of your baby getting HIV.

Benefits of breast feeding:

Breast feeding has many benefits for the mother and baby. Some of the benefits are listed below:

  • Breastmilk is the perfect food for your baby; you don’t need to give him or her anything else for the first 6 months of life.
  • Breastmilk is free and always available, so breastfeeding saves money and time
  • Breastmilk is hygienic (clean), so breastfeeding reduces the risk of your baby getting sick (or even dying) from illnesses like diarrhoea
  • Breastmilk contain antibodies to strengthen your baby’s immune system, helping him or her to stay healthy, grow and develop well and to recover quicker after being sick
  • Breastmilk protects your baby’s stomach lining helping it to “block” infections
  • Breastfeeding also makes it easier for you to establish a bond between you and the baby.

Even if you choose to formula feed your baby, you should not give him or her complimentary foods until 6 months of age, and that your baby will still receive Nevirapine for 6 weeks after birth.

By protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding, YOU can contribute to each of the MDGs in a substantial way. Exclusive breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding are key interventions for improving child survival, potentially saving about 20% of children under five.

“Remember that the benefits are the same for HIV-positive or negative women”

 

It has been estimated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that worldwide there are 490,000 cases of active TB and sickness in children, and 64,000 deaths of children from TB each year.This is the estimate for HIV negative children, as children who have TB and who are also HIV positive when they die, are internationally classified as having died from HIV. Many people think that these figures are a significant underestimate.

In high burden TB settings it has been noted that 15-20% of all TB cases are among children, whereas in low burden TB settings it is estimated that 2-7% of all TB cases are among children.

In commemoration of the post-World TB Day Awareness dated 24 March 2015; Children’s Rights Centre in partnership with Yezingane Network (Secretariat of the children’s sector) shared on its social media an informative TB fact sheet informing and reminding people about the risks of TB and how it can be treated. This was after it was identified in previous reports that tuberculosis mostly affected young adults in their most productive years and South Africa being one of the countries with the highest burden.

The organization has also been constantly active in social media by posting updates on important health calendar dates. These included the following dates:

  • STI/ CONDOM AWARENESS WEEK: 10 – 16 FEBRUARY 2015: This was used as a platform to remind the public at large that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are not new and needed to realize that anyone is a target and only very safe sexual behaviors would decrease their risk of infection hence everyone was being encouraged to practice safe sex by using a condom!
  • PREGNANCY AWARENESS WEEK: 10 – 16 FEBRUARY 2015: Since the organization had been actively involved in the PMTCT Campaign; this year’s Pregnancy Awareness week was basically to educate and remind all women about the PMTCT (Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission) of HIV/AIDS. This is a programme which was designed and aimed at stopping the spread of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) from mothers to their children with a goal to keep women and children healthy, improving their quality of life and lowering deaths.

Amongst other things that Children’s Rights Centre has been actively involved in; a radio interview was scheduled with one of the local radio stations. The focus of the interview was around Infant Feeding and HIV and the importance & benefits of breastfeeding while HIV positive. This was a significant interview as it also forms a huge part of the PMTCT Campaign.

According to UNICEF without preventive interventions, approximately one-third of infants born to HIV-positive mothers contract HIV through mother-to-child transmission, becoming infected during their mothers' pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

This is why we try by all means at any given chance to promote and remind all women about the benefits of breastfeeding.

PS. Benefits of breastfeeding are the same for HIV positive or negative women.

The support from donors through the Global Giving site is deeply appreciated and acknowledged. Your contributions have allowed us to continue campaigning for the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) to strive for an aware generation of mothers knowing that HIV transmission from mother to child is preventable and has the potential to greatly influence all future generations of South Africans.

The Children’s Rights Centre which is the Secretariat of the Yezingane Network ran a successful awareness raising PMTCT campaign during the past two years. The next step of the PMTCT Campaign is to mobilize, engage and build the capacity of Yezingane Network member organizations working at provincial level on understanding and championing initiatives aimed at scaling up the prevention of Mother–to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) through workshops, community dialogues and information sharing. These initiatives will also focus on the promotion of safe breastfeeding.

The Children’s Rights Centre and the Yezingane Network will continue to utilize the various communication channels of TV, radio, print and digital media to direct messages across South Africa to a wide variety of women that includes mothers and women who are planning on a pregnancy.

As a means to strengthening collaboration and partnership around PMTCT, it is important that the youth, women and men’s sectors are included in all initiatives. In light of this inter-sectorial meetings will be held to enhance the knowledge of PMTCT and breastfeeding. These collaborations can only result in positive outcomes for the prevention of mother to child transmission and will assist in working towards the Children’s Sector’s vision of 3 Zero’s:

  • Zero New Infections in babies           
  • Zero AIDS-related child deaths
  • Zero tolerance for child rights violations

We look forward to the continued support of donors and appreciate your generosity for it is only through our combined efforts that we prevent HIV in babies.

Questions and Answers on Infant Feeding and HIV
Questions and Answers on Infant Feeding and HIV

According to UNICEF without preventive interventions, approximately one-third of infants born to HIV-positive mothers contract HIV through mother-to-child transmission, becoming infected during their mothers' pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. In 2001, 800,000 children under the age of 15 contracted HIV, over 90 per cent of them through mother-to-child transmission of HIV (MTCT). Between 15 and 25% of children born to HIV-infected mothers get infected with HIV during pregnancy or delivery, while about 15% of the children get infected through breastfeeding.

The aim of the Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV and AIDS campaign launched by the Yezingane Network (housed at Children’s Rights Centre) in August 2013 was to raise awareness of PMTCT Services available to pregnant and lactating mothers as well as to promote healthy behaviours including adherence to treatment, safe breastfeeding and early and regular antenatal clinic visits. Materials were developed, printed and distributed to mothers across South Africa with the aim of educating and highlighting the significance of exclusive breast feeding.

We have seen much interest around the PMTCT campaign, and continue to strive for an aware generation of mothers knowing that HIV transmission from mother to child is preventable and has potential to greatly influence our future generation.

Thus far we have taken the initiative of translating the available PMTCT Guidelines into 2 indigenous languages namely IsiZulu and Sotho. The aim of translating the materials into local languages was for local people within the communities to be able to easily understand them and also create an awareness about the importance of PMTCT and exclusive breast-feeding. These publications are being distributed to different organisations, especially within the rural areas.

Besides the PMTCT guidelines, there is also the Infant Feeding FAQ Booklet with questions and answers for breastfeeding mothers both HIV infected and HIV negative. This booklet was produced in 2010, and has been updated. It was developed in order to inform, educate and advise mothers and health care workers about the importance of exclusive breast feeding, which simply means giving the baby no other food or drink – not even water- except breast milk. This booklet was found to be very useful by health workers and paediatricians to such an extent that the Yezingane Network saw the need to update the booklet and also translate it into the 2 local languages.

The Infant Feeding FAQ booklet is being distributed with a breastfeeding cartoon video developed for lactating mothers which was launched in the week of 1-7 August 2014 (World Breastfeeding Week.)

These valuable resources used as a platform on our social media network sites to create awareness and encourage healthy behaviours and highlight the importance of exclusive breast feeding and its benefits.

Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission Booklet
Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission Booklet
 

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Organization Information

Children's Rights Centre (CRC)

Location: Durban, KwaZulu Natal - South Africa
Website: http:/​/​www.childrensrights.org.za
Children's Rights Centre (CRC)
Project Leader:
Nombuso Zikalala
Miss
Durban, KwaZulu-Natal South Africa

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