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
Christine accessing the antenatal care services
Christine accessing the antenatal care services

Currently aged 36, Christine came to Alive Medical Services when she was pregnant with her first child in 2009. She was very ill at the time and when she took the HIV-test and it turned out to be positive, she became disillusioned and asked the doctor to recommend an abortion.

Christine was afraid of passing on the virus to her unborn child hence thinking that an abortion would be a better choice. The doctor that attended to her advised against the idea and told her about the Alive Medical Services’ prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV programme which has transformed into the elimination of mother-to-child transmission (EMTCT) over the years. Since 2013, all pregnant women enrolled in our care have given birth to HIV-negative babies.

Christine was astonished by the possibility of her giving birth to an HIV-negative baby so she got the will to try. As she shares today, she has given birth to three HIV-negative and healthy children and expecting the fourth. All her children have been given birth to while she accesses the free antenatal and postnatal care under AMS’ EMTCT services. She attends at least four antenatal care visits, adheres to her medication, and makes sure that after pregnancy, she consistently brings her children for the early infant diagnosis (EID) services to make sure that their status remains negative.

“I am very glad that 8 years ago, Alive Medical Services renewed my hope in having an HIV-free generation,” Christine gleefully shares.

She wishes that all women all over Uganda and the world would access such services for free so that HIV is eradicated for good. She also does her part by sensitizing pregnant women in her community to know their status so that they can save the lives of their unborn babies.

Thanks to supporters like you, for you, make it possible for women like Christine to give birth to HIV-negative babies.

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Thanks to supporters like you, on January 30, 2018, Catherine’s second-born daughter was confirmed HIV negative.

A clinician smiled as she brought Catherine into the treatment room, embracing her to celebrate the good news. Ever since she realized she was pregnant, Catherine had worked hard to ensure the baby wouldn’t contract HIV. She received continuous support from AMS staff to prevent mother-to-child-transmission of the virus, and faithfully adhered to her medication.

“I’m so relieved,” Catherine said. The baby smiled in her arms, almost as if she was relieved, too.

The joy in the room was tangible. But it hadn’t always been this way for Catherine and her family.

When Catherine gave birth to her first-born daughter, she went to live with her mother and extended family in the village. As Catherine recovered from the delivery, her family helped her with the baby. Her husband stayed in Kampala to work – and during that time, he contracted HIV from another woman.

Catherine returned to Kampala after three months in the village, unaware of her husband’s infidelity or illness. She put all her time and energy into caring for her daughter. And when the two of them fell sick, she assumed it was a temporary bug, or at worst, malaria.

Catherine tested HIV positive at a health facility near her home. Her neighbour urged her to get another test at Alive Medical Services – and after her diagnosis was confirmed, the doctors tested Catherine’s daughter, who was also diagnosed HIV positive.

“I was shocked, but there was nothing to be done except to begin treating myself and my daughter,” Catherine said. “I convinced my husband to get tested, but he never accepted his diagnosis. For me, the only option was to stay strong for my child.”

Catherine has since separated from her husband, who refused to get treatment and was inhibiting Catherine’s own progress. By continuing to visit AMS for check-ups, Catherine’s viral load is suppressed, and her first-born daughter – now three years old – is stable and healthy. Catherine now works as a farmer in her village, where she grows fresh produce for her family and sells whatever is left. Your support of this project has helped women like Catherine and babies like Charity have a fresh start in life, something we are so grateful for.

“My advice to other HIV-positive single mothers is to do as much as possible to support your children,” Catherine said.

Thank you for keeping Alive Medical Services in your hearts! We greatly appreciate your generosity.


 

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In 2013, Mary came to Alive Medical Services for a check-up. She had a fever and was hoping to see a doctor, receive some medicine, and head back home. Mary thought she only had a passing illness, but just to be safe, she decided to be tested for a number of viruses anyway.

When the doctor returned with Mary’s results, he told her something she would never have imagined: Mary, though married for years to the same person, was HIV positive.

“I was in such a bad state,” Mary said. “I just came into the clinic to get checked for a fever, and then I found out I had HIV.”

Terrified her husband would blame her for the illness, she didn’t say a thing until he developed a rash on his arms. Mary insisted he get tested for HIV, and when her husband came home with a positive diagnosis, he told her the truth. He had cheated on Mary with an HIV positive woman.

At that point, Mary found out she was pregnant with her third child, the first to be conceived after Mary realized her positive diagnosis. She hurried to AMS as soon as she found out she was expecting.

“The doctors helped me maintain good adherence throughout the pregnancy, following up with me as the months went by,” Mary said.

Within months, Mary’s husband left her for someone else. Regardless of his repeated deceit, Mary stayed strong. She kept up with her medication, came to the clinic for frequent check-ups, and focused on delivering a healthy, HIV negative baby.

After nine months of pre-natal care at AMS, and a year-and-a-half of check-ups post-birth, AMS doctors confirmed Mary’s daughter, Lillian, was HIV negative.

Today, Lillian is nearly 2 years old. Mary is in good health, and continues to come to AMS for her antiretroviral medication and regular check-ins. In addition, her family receives treatment of other infections – opportunistic or otherwise – free of charge. Your support to this project has helped mothers like Mary overcome insurmountable challenges, and daughters like Lillian be born healthy and strong. 

This past quarter alone, we've provided 112 new clients with family planning services. We've reached 78 mothers with antenatal care. And we've successfully graduated 54 babies, including Lillian, from our prevention of mother-to-child-transmission of HIV program. None of these successes would have been possible without the support of partners like you. We are so grateful for your generosity!

“At first, I was so worried about having HIV,” Mary said. “But today, I’m okay. I’ve accepted it. And I’m well aware that if I take my medication well, I’ll continue to live.”


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    Joan sits outside AMS' pharmacy with her family.
    Joan sits outside AMS' pharmacy with her family.
    Joan was only 19 when she realized she was HIV-positive. She had been sick for weeks, suffering from headaches, fever and fatigue, when a friend finally suggested she visit Alive Medical Services (AMS) to be tested. That day, Joan was counseled, diagnosed and immediately enrolled in care. 

    “I was continuously supported by the AMS doctors and counselors,” Joan said. “They helped me take my medicine very well.Within five months, I felt very stable and very strong.”

    Nearly ten years later, Joan remains a client at AMS. She no longer visits the clinic only for herself, but for her family as well. AMS ensured her 4-year-old son, Dickson, and her 2-year-old daughter, Anita, were born HIV-negative. Joan is just one of 1,000 expectant mothers AMS has cared for since 2013, all of whom delivered HIV-negative children after receiving prenatal care, education and support.  

    “I wasn’t scared when I found out I was pregnant with Dickson,” said Joan, who became pregnant four years after her initial diagnosis. “The counselors at AMS had already advised me on the do’s and don’ts of pregnancy, and I felt I had all the support I needed. I was positive my baby would be HIV-negative.”

    To ensure such an outcome, AMS provided Joan with education, health care and counseling throughout her entire pregnancy. AMS counselors also enforced the value of proper adherence to her medication, and coached Joan on breastfeeding and child care practices after birth. 

    After Dickson was born, Joan returned to AMS for her son's check-ups. He was first tested at six weeks of age, again after 1 year, and once more after 18 months. Every time, Dickson tested negative, as did her second child, Anita, who was born two years later.

    “I have joy in my heart because both my babies were born negative,” Joan said. 

    Joan’s viral load is now suppressed and she continues to take her anti-retroviral medication regularly. AMS also provides Joan with injectable contraceptives, allowing her to have more control the growth and well-being of her family. Joan’s husband has also become an active patient at AMS: every three months, he visits the clinic to get tested and ensure his HIV-negative status has not changed. 

    “I like coming to AMS because of the quality of care and the advice of the health workers,” Joan said. “I get my medicine whenever I need it, and they are never out of stock. I appreciate the love and care of the doctors and the counselors. I am proud to be a client of AMS.”

    It is only through partners like you that AMS can help mothers like Joan. Your support is critical to ensuring children are born HIV-negative – and you are playing an integral role in halting the spread of HIV and keeping families safe. For that, we are incredibly grateful. Thank you so much!

     

    Joan receives an injectable contraceptive at AMS.
    Joan receives an injectable contraceptive at AMS.
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    Mother, Jenifer, holding HIV negative son Dathan
    Mother, Jenifer, holding HIV negative son Dathan

    Since beginning our ANC (antenatal care) program, Alive Medical Services (AMS) has continued to strengthen and grow the program which has now seen over 1,000 expectant mothers in the last five years. Since 2013, AMS saw 1,033 HIV negative babies born to our clients and has successfully eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV for all expectant mothers enrolled in our care. Our highly trained clinicians educate and counsel each mother throughout her entire pregnancy on proper medication adherence, breastfeeding and care after birth.

    Below you can hear from two AMS clients on their experience with our ANC program:

    Meet Jenifer: (pictured above)

    Jenifer discovered AMS’s services through a friend and came to the clinic to get tested. When she found out she was positive, she immediately enrolled in care. Through counseling sessions and health talks provided by AMS, she learned of the ANC program. She is currently with a supportive partner, who is the father of her first born and HIV-negative son, Dathan.

    “While I was pregnant, they treated me very well. They gave me advice and always checked me with love. After I gave birth, they tested the baby for the first time and he was negative. Then they tested the second time [six weeks of age] and he was well again. Now, in four months, [18 months of age] he will be tested for the third time and discharged HIV-negative. Alive gives me drugs and I always take them and now I have hope. I want to thank AMS very much. I am happy and alive and now you can see my baby is too.”

    Meet Jane: (pictured below)

    Jane discovered AMS through a friend who was already enrolled in care. She looked up to her friend who already had two HIV-negative babies and through AMS’ ANC program, she is preparing to give birth again after finding out she was HIV positive. Jane and AMS staff are optimistic that the baby will be HIV-negative.

    “At first when I became positive, I was a client somewhere else, but the care was not good and I was not comfortable. My friend told me about Alive and I decided to travel over 200 km from my home for care. Here, the care is good and they treat me with love. Here I learned that having an HIV-negative baby is possible. I used to come every three months for care, but now I travel monthly for my ANC checkups. I decided to travel this far because I know every service is free. When I make a mistake or I come late, the counselors do not judge me. They help me. Now I know I can do anything.”

    Elimination of HIV transmission from mothers to children is a massive step towards our vision of seeing a generation free of HIV/AIDS. We want to thank YOU, our donors, for your continued support in our cause. Every penny given goes towards this lifesaving work so we can continue to protect the next generation.    

    AMS client, Jane, excitedly awaits her new arrival
    AMS client, Jane, excitedly awaits her new arrival

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    Organization Information

    Alive Medical Services

    Location: Kampala - Uganda
    Website:
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    Twitter: @AMSUganda
    Project Leader:
    Pasquine Ogunsanya
    Founder and Executive Director
    Kampala, Uganda
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