Stop the Spread of HIV from Mothers to Babies

by Alive Medical Services
Stop the Spread of HIV from Mothers to Babies
Stop the Spread of HIV from Mothers to Babies
Stop the Spread of HIV from Mothers to Babies
Stop the Spread of HIV from Mothers to Babies
Stop the Spread of HIV from Mothers to Babies
Stop the Spread of HIV from Mothers to Babies

KNOWING MY MOTHERS HIV STATUS SAVED MY LIFE AND MY BABY IS FREE FROM HIV


“Maybe if that day my mother never got ill and didn’t get us worried to the point that she needed professional medical attention; I would be dead.” *Claire’s story

24-year-old Claire and a mother of one was diagnosed with HIV while at the hospital next to her mother’s death bed while attending to her. Claire tested positive for HIV and is currently on medication. Prior to her diagnosis, Claire never presented any signs; however, her mother was sick for a while and she was taken to the hospital for professional help. Several tests were done on her mother, and she was discovered to have been infected by HIV.

“That is how nicely the nurses advised me to test. I was about 13 and I knew what AIDS was.”

Claire was tested, and her result was positive. “I felt a lot of panic, not remembering when I was engaged with a man, (that’s what we were told in school).” Claire was sat down and explained to by the health workers of the possibility that she contracted the virus from her mother.
“I was so confused because I didn’t have any signs on my body, neither did I feel sick. The doctors didn’t want to take a 13-year-old into that science. However, they advised us to start medication and referred us to a clinic they knew, Alive Medical Services it was!”

She was started on Septrin to prevent opportunistic infections as she didn’t qualify to start ART at that time. Unfortunately, Claire’s mother died three months later, and she started staying with her aunt.
I knew I was still young, but I requested my aunt to talk for me to start medication immediately, after all I was still going to take it even if I took years. All I thought about was death and I didn’t want to die.”
Claire has since been on ART for 10 years now, she is a mother of one and in a discordant healthy relationship.
“Thanks to the Alive Medical Services system, I am counselled every time I come, my child is healthy, just look at this little thing. My partner is healthy and supportive, he is faithfully taking PrEP and he has no problem about it. They have helped me have a healthy family. Thank you, Alive Medical Services, for all your work, your regular testing that keeps us alive indeed.”

Alive Medical Services offers comprehensive care, treatment and support to HIV positive patients in the community and works across Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono districts, to create a world in which families can live free from HIV infection. Just like Claire who was affected by HIV and AIDS can live positively, and productively in society.

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27-year-old Faridah was born HIV-positive, and her dream is to reduce the spread of HIV in her family.


“I’ve been taking medications my entire life. At first I used to take two pills a day but now I take once a day,” says Faridah.
Growing up Faridah lost her mother at the age of 5 which made her go through a rebellious stage as a young child where she used to refuse to take her medications. Faridah used to lie to her maternal aunt that she was taking the medicine, yet she would find ways of keeping it under her tongue and throwing it away, this is because she didn’t know why she was taking the medication.
“I was just told I have sirimu (which means AIDS in our local language); however, I didn’t know how people contracted it, my aunt just said I will heal if I take this medication as she instructed me, and I was told I would be okay. She sometimes told me that I will have big buttocks in the name of convincing me to take the medicine and told me all sorts of components in it. The fact that I didn’t have body pains anywhere and I wasn’t growing fat either, I thought I had healed a long time ago which made me throw away the medication.”


Following the loss of her mother, her aunt looked after her and made sure she was taking her medication; however, she has always been challenged with the costs especially the transportation of her medication. Her aunt who got an opportunity for Faridah to study registered her under an organization that looks after orphans. This was not a worry for them regarding her education. Because knowing the child’s HIV status was a mandate by the organization, Faridah's aunt disclosed it to them but shared that Faridah wasn't aware of her status. Faridah was then taken to Alive Medical Services in 2010 where she was professionally disclosed to.


“When I was told the meaning of sirimu, I didn't know how to react, I wondered if I was supposed to cry, feel sad, be angry, I had no emotion at all because I was told I will be okay from the time I was 5, I trusted all those words.”
While studying, Faridah got pregnant with her first child in 2016 which forced the organization to return her to her aunt. “My aunt was disappointed about the turn I had taken but she assured me that I was going to have a healthy HIV negative baby.”
“On coming to Alive Medical Services, this time I was coming for just my refill but also, I had come for antenatal services. The nurses to my surprise were not judgemental, I was just 21 and pretty ashamed of my pregnancy but they handled me with dignity.” Says Faridah.


Today Faridah is happy to share that she has had two amazing children who are HIV-negative. She also reports that the father of her children is doing well. The two are raising their children in harmony thanks to the services offered by Alive Medical Services.
“I know I haven’t been the best client at this facility, but they have had time for me and my family.”
Increasing the number of pregnant women on life-saving HIV treatment, helps mothers live longer, healthier lives and helps eliminate new infections among children. Since 2013, Alive Medical Services has not registered any HIV-positive babies from mothers under their care thanks to donors, funders, and well-wishers that have made it possible to avail of the necessary services HIV-positive pregnant mothers need.

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Rebecca is a 33-year-old HIV-positive woman but because of elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV services at Alive Medical Services, she is a mother of two HIV-negative children.

Rebecca’s parents were unable to pay her school fees while she was still in secondary school, forcing her to rely on her boyfriend, who was willing to pay her school fees on the condition that she marries him. He died after a few years and Rebecca was devastated. She had no idea what had caused this tragedy and assumed it was a normal illness. She resumed her normal life, fell in love again, and became pregnant. When she went to the health centre for a pregnancy test, she also did an HIV test and learned for the first time that she was HIV positive.


"It was difficult for me to accept the news of my HIV status, and I also realized it had to do with my first marriage. But the doctors comforted me and convinced me that I still had a chance at life. They restored my hope, and I was given a referral to Alive Medical Services to begin ART immediately. The health workers at Alive Medical Services were incredible, and they taught me how to protect my baby from HIV, which is when I began taking ARV medication. They assisted me in disclosing to my husband, who accepted me, and we are still living together to this day." narrates Rebecca.


Rebecca's eldest child with her second husband grew up healthy and HIV-negative, and he is now 5 years old. They decided to have another child when their first child was 4 years old. After the second child was born, they continued to visit the health centre for tests and follow-up visits; at the age of 18 months, the child, like their father, is HIV negative.


"Having an HIV-negative family has given me a lot of power since my first husband died from HIV." It has also assisted me in staying healthy and caring for myself and my family, which is why I am still alive today. That is why I am grateful to Alive Medical Services and everyone who donates money to help us get the medication and other care we require. I had no hope at first, but now I realize that medication can help me stay alive and healthy." says Rebecca.

If elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV services is not provided, pregnant women with HIV, have a high chance of transmitting the virus to their babies during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. Alive Medical Services, prioritizes working to eliminate new HIV infections among children through the Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission (EMTCT) initiative.

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Beatrice, a 52 years old beautiful lady, joined AMS in 2009. One night she had taken too much alcohol while hanging out with friends and had a one-night stand with a man but lost contact with him. She had been worried for a couple of months so she decided to take an HIV test.
“I didn’t remember whether we had unprotected sex or not, the only thing I remember up to this day is we met in a bar” Beatrice narrates.
Beatrice had always heard about HIV and assumed that she was well informed and didn't need testing before any sexual encounter. She also thought that one sexual encounter wouldn’t cause a risk of infection. She came to Alive Medical Services to confirm that she was HIV negative
When Beatrice’s HIV test turned positive, she was devastated!
“It was hard for me to imagine that I had to take medication daily for the rest of my life.” Narrated Beatrice.
Alive Medical Services provides free high-quality comprehensive HIV/AIDS services including prevention, care, ARVs and psychosocial support and counselling so Beatrice was helped to understand that with adherence to ARVs and positive mindset she can still live a quality life.
"After counseling, I felt so confident, healed and I was ready to share with my close friends about my HIV status with an intention of raising awareness and helping them learn from my mistake and always avoid drinking too much alcohol so that they may negotiate for safer sex.” Narrated Beatrice.
Beatrice is grateful to Alive Medical Services and its partners like GlobalGiving for restoring hope to life after testing positive for HIV. Access to improved HIV treatments for women like Beatrice encourage them to take them for the best outcomes of their health.

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Olive is a 31-year-old beautiful lady who joined Alive Medical Services HIV clinic in 2010. When she was in high school, she did all she could to abstain from sex in order to avoid getting infected with HIV. Unfortunately, in 2002, while in High school, Olive was raped! She was so devastated and feared she may have contracted HIV during this first sexual encounter but feared to test.
Olive had her first baby but did not test for HIV and exclusively breastfed her baby just like any other excited first-time mother. Little did she know that she was infecting the baby through breast milk.
“I noticed that my baby was not growing as well as other normal babies his age and yet he had made one year already.” Sad Olive explains.
Olive’s baby got so ill that he was admitted in the Intensive Care Unit and several tests were done including HIV test. Her baby turned out positive for HIV, and the health workers suggested that she should also get tested for HIV.
“I was somewhat not shocked at all, I just had to be strong for the sake of my son. I was counselled and referred to Alive Medical Services for better comprehensive care. When we came to Alive Medical Services with my son, I was counselled again, I was encouraged that I was greater than HIV, the fact that the counsellor told me to forgive whoever infected me to love my life". Narrates Olive.
Olive encourages regular testing especially the expectant mothers, girls who have been raped or defiled, they should always feel free to consult, ask and think about their health.
Thanks to the Alive Medical Services EMTCT program and health team, Olive is now a new mother of a healthy baby girl, and she is excited that she is breastfeeding under the guidance of the health workers, and she is devoted entirely to the treatment and management of HIV. Olive takes her daily medication one pill, once a day, and on time. And it’s working. She is virally undetectable with a healthy HIV-negative partner. Olive eats well and she’s in great health.

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Organization Information

Alive Medical Services

Location: Kampala - Uganda
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AMSUganda
Project Leader:
Pasquine Ogunsanya
Founder and Executive Director
Kampala, Uganda
$43,457 raised of $90,000 goal
 
350 donations
$46,543 to go
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