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
Sister Beatrice, AMS's head of family planning
Sister Beatrice, AMS's head of family planning

Each Tuesday morning, Alive Medical Service’s designated family planning days, the waiting area fills with clients who one by one trickle into the family planning section of AMS. In one of the family planning consultation rooms, these clients are seen by Sister Beatrice, a senior nurse and head of the family planning unit at AMS. Sister Beatrice sees each client to understand the full scope of her needs. Many women seeking family planning are also combating additional issues, of stigma of seeking family planning, needing to hide their clinic visit from their family, and misunderstanding and unnecessarily fearing certain types of contraception. No matter the issue, Sister Beatrice listens patiently, empathizes, and empowers women to make the choices that are right for them.

Sister Beatrice has been with AMS since its inception in 2007, making her one of the most senior leaders at AMS. Her passion for women’s rights, gender equity, and service has led her to become the head of family planning. In her role, she provides clients with an array of family planning methods: contraceptive pills, injectables, IUDs, implants, and condoms. Using the skills gained from her studies and years of experience, she refers clients to appropriate family planning methods, and when necessary, inserts certain contraceptives with precision and accuracy.

“As a woman, I have a big role to play in guiding other women,” says Sister Beatrice, when asked about the drive behind her work, “I know that when women are protected and supported, entire societies thrive. When we support women in planning for children, then her family life, relationships, and health improve. This is what motivates me to do what I do.”

On this March 8th, we ring in International Women’s Day by celebrating the service of leaders like our Sister Beatrice, the women that they serve, and women around the world who all make powerful contributions to society. AMS intentionally serves women and girls, who are the most at-risk populations for HIV. We at AMS realize that they continue to be affected by HIV at a disproportionate rate, due to risks including teenage pregnancy, forced/commercialized sex, intimate-partner violence, and lack of education and healthcare. However, with dedicated staff including Sister Beatrice, and your support, we are confident that we can serve women’s needs more and more each year. As we celebrate this International Women’s Day, please join us by donating today to our efforts to lift women up and keep them healthy. With your help, women of AMS, in Uganda, and around the world will thrive! 

Sr Beatrice counseling a client and her partner
Sr Beatrice counseling a client and her partner
The women of an AMS income-generation group
The women of an AMS income-generation group

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Smiling women of an income-generation group
Smiling women of an income-generation group

December is a special month for us at Alive Medical Services (AMS) for multiple reasons: reflection, celebration, recommitment, and giving. Importantly, World AIDS Day on December 1st was a reminder of the fight towards eliminating HIV/AIDS. Despite the challenges that remain ahead, we, at the frontlines, recommitted on World AIDS Day to never give up hope.  

During World AIDS Day, AMS reflected on the strength of women. With gender inequality, domestic violence, and unplanned pregnancies impeding this high-risk group’s protection against HIV, women are more important than ever in leading the fight against HIV/AIDS. At AMS, we help women become independent through income-generation groups, support young girls through psychosocial support, and provide menstrual care for schoolgirls with reusable menstrual pads. Importantly, our family planning services and close care of women before, during, and after pregnancy has led to ZERO HIV mother-to-child transmissions since 2013. Your generous donations have been instrumental in these achievements.    

One woman who benefits from AMS is Linda. Having lost her education while young, discovering her HIV-positive status became crushing. She began to suffer from malnutrition, depression, and suicidal ideations, and a separation from her first partner. However, with the encouragement of her family and AMS staff, she gave birth to two HIV-negative children. Finally with a supportive partner, her hope was renewed. She now sells crops for a living and supports her brothers through school. “When I reflect on the past, I am grateful for the life I have now because of the love that AMS treated me with,” she says.  Stories of strong women like Linda reminded us on December 1st of the power of empowering and celebrating women. 

In recommitting to the fight against HIV/AIDS on World AIDS Day, we also recognized and began strategizing to end the challenges that remain. As we formulate our 2017 budget, it is demanding to fund frequent ultrasound, immunization, and community outreach services. These challenges signify why GlobalGiving is so important. We know that with you, we can see an end to these shortcomings in 2017.

We are grateful for GlobalGiving’s multiple opportunities to maximize donations during year-end fundraising. In GlobalGiving UK’s Christmas Giving Campaign, we currently hold a 2,000 GBP prize for having the most in donations out of all competitors. However, this campaign ends December 31th, so the competition is not over. There are additionally 2,500 GBP in prizes available for us to win for having the most number of unique donors, for which we are currently in 2nd place.

During this giving season, please consider donating before December 31st to help women fight HIV/AIDS. A donation of just 6 GBP will provide pregnancy screenings for 3 HIV-positive women. Thank you and we hope you have safe and wonderful holidays as we bring in the New Year! 

 

 

Link to leaderboard 2: https://www.globalgiving.org/leaderboards/year-end-2016/

Link to FB: www.facebook.com/alivemedicalservices

Linda receives medication from a clinical officer
Linda receives medication from a clinical officer
AMS staff wishes you happy holidays and new year!
AMS staff wishes you happy holidays and new year!

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A mother plays with her child in AMS's youth wing
A mother plays with her child in AMS's youth wing

Mothers and babies receive special attention at AMS because we understand that prevention of HIV transmission is key to eradicating HIV worldwide. AMS has continued its efforts in eliminating mother-to-child transmission (EMTCT) through multiple interventions. We care for mothers from before conception to after birth of their baby, providing services including health talks, lab testing, medication, growth monitoring, and external referrals for delivery. In the last 3 months, 96 mothers have attended antenatal care services, 47 babies were discharged as HIV-negative, and 140 children were immunized. Our interventions have been successful, as AMS continues to celebrate 0% mother-to-child transmissions of HIV since 2013! Thank you for your generous support in making this possible!

At AMS we also consider community outreach interventions critical to EMTCT. Backtracking to the community and informing those who cannot access services, ensures that best EMTCT practices are being disseminated widely. Our Community Health Workers achieve this by traveling into the community and educating residents on the importance of attendance, adherence, good breastfeeding practices, and more.

Mary* is one such client who was 18 years old and pregnant when she was connected to AMS through a community outreach in 2015. Learning that AMS services are free was encouraging to her, and she came in for an appointment. Unfortunately, she was overcome with fear to learn that she is HIV-positive during her appointment, and became frightened for her baby’s life. After AMS EMTCT interventions including lab testing, medicine provision, and continuous monitoring of her and her baby, Mary was overjoyed to eventually give birth to a healthy, HIV-negative baby. “The care is really great here. The workers are so attentive and I always get everything I need immediately,” says Mary.

Mary and her healthy baby reminds us of the importance of connecting with our community. However, the last three months have seen a challenge in our community outreach efforts, as we have had a limited budget to afford the transportation, communication materials, testing materials, and other resources needed to conduct regular outreaches. This is a critical challenge that we are looking to address in order to conduct outreaches once a month or at least once a quarter. Will you join us in helping to spread lifesaving information to mothers in our community? Every donation helps tremendously, and we are grateful for your continuous support!

 

 

*The client’s true name has been changed in order to protect her privacy

AMS clinicians monitor the growth of a baby
AMS clinicians monitor the growth of a baby
Mary with her healthy baby after being immunized
Mary with her healthy baby after being immunized

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Like most mothers at AMS, when Kay* became pregnant her primary concern was the health and HIV status of her unborn child. “When I was pregnant, my main concern was if my baby would be free of HIV. Thankfully AMS doctors, nurses, and counsellors kept reassuring me that if I continue to take my medicine well and follow the advice given to me, my baby will be fine.”

Globally, over 90% of new HIV infections among infants and young children occur through mother-to-child transmission. This is why elimination of mother-to-child transmission (EMTCT) is a key global goal for achieving an HIV-free generation.

At AMS our dedication to clients’ needs and our commitment to providing accessible, comprehensive care is changing this statistic. From January to May 2016, the AMS EMTCT program has successfully supported women living with HIV to give birth to 156 healthy, HIV-free babies. This continues the program’s 100% success rate – since 2013 all babies born in AMS’ EMTCT program have been born HIV-free.

Thanks to the generous support of donors like you, we have been able to continue providing more women living with HIV with the quality HIV treatment, antenatal care, and comprehensive support services that they need to give birth to a thriving, HIV-free generation.

The success of the AMS EMTCT program is grounded in the thoughtful, loving care that we deliver to each woman, child, and family.

Kay was diagnosed HIV positive in 2011 and immediately enrolled in care and treatment at AMS. Once on treatment Kay’s health began to improve and she regained her strength. However, in 2013 when Kay became pregnant her excitement and joy was quickly overshadowed by concern for the health of her unborn child and fear that she would transmit HIV to her baby.

The constant support and encouragement of AMS staff and access to free, comprehensive HIV and antenatal care services allowed Kay to have a smooth and healthy pregnancy. “I was well cared for by AMS staff and enjoyed free services like ultrasound scans, laboratory check-ups, medication and their loving support. I faithfully followed what they told me, took all my medicine, attended antenatal care and when the time for delivery came I went to Nsambya Hospital for delivery.  After delivery I came back to AMS where my baby and I continued to be followed up.”

With limited access to additional financial assistance or support, the free comprehensive services provided at AMS are crucial to supporting mothers like Kay during both pregnancy and the period following childbirth. “The food package I receive from AMS also was of great help to me to keep breast-feeding my baby.”

By enrolling in the AMS EMTCT program, Kay received top-quality physical and psychosocial support throughout her pregnancy and the first year of her baby’s life. This holistic care has made it possible for Kay and hundreds of mothers like her to achieve their dreams of giving birth to HIV-free babies.

“I stopped breastfeeding my baby at one year and he was tested again and found to be HIV negative and what a joyful moment that was.  To me AMS is more than a medical center. They are like a family to me to whom I will forever be grateful and pray for to continue their service in being a blessing to others like me.”

Your support for the AMS EMTCT program enables us to continue working towards an HIV-free generation, by providing the free comprehensive services needed to support mothers and deliver healthy HIV-negative babies. From the entire AMS family – and the 156 HIV-negative babies born this year – thank you!

*Kay is not the woman’s real name, but was used to respect her privacy.

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Dr. Pasquine Oygunsanya with an HIV-free baby
Dr. Pasquine Oygunsanya with an HIV-free baby

“Negative” is the single confirmation that all mothers living with HIV hope to hear when they bring their newborns in to get tested for HIV. At Alive Medical Services (AMS), we have been saying ‘negative’ a lot. In fact, since 2013, AMS has supported every woman enrolled in our EMTCT (elimination of mother-to-child transmission) program to give birth to HIV-free babies!

Alive Medical Services understands that in order to realize an HIV free generation, we must provide all women and families with the proper respect, love, and care to empower them to make healthy and informed decisions. AMS believes that every woman has the right to build the healthy family that she desires. AMS supports this vision by providing women with the information, care, treatment, and support that they need to give birth to HIV-free children.

As mothers continue to spread information in the community about these services, AMS has seen the demand continue to grow. In 2015 alone, AMS supported women living with HIV to give birth to 414 HIV-free babies.

Your support enables us to continue providing the staffing, medicine, and care that is needed to stand in solidarity with women living with HIV and work towards an HIV-free future! 

Hope*, one of our AMS ambassador mothers recounted her journey to good health and giving birth to an HIV-free baby. Hope first arrived at AMS in 2011, when family members brought her to the clinic after she had fallen sick at her aunt’s home. Her family members knew about the free, quality care at AMS and trusted the clinic to care for the young women. After being tested at the clinic, Hope learned that she was HIV positive. Despite learning this difficult information, Hope immediately began working closely with AMS staff to make a smooth and holistic transition on to treatment. Within just a couple of weeks, she was placed on antiretroviral therapy (ART) and her health immediately began to improve.

However, despite regaining her strength and health, Hope was overcome by fear when she became pregnant two years later. Hope came to the clinic worried about her and her unborn child’s future, fearing that they would both die from HIV. However, the staff at AMS immediately consoled and assured her that with the proper care and treatment she could give birth to a healthy, HIV-free baby.

Hope followed all of her doctor’s advice and carefully adhered to her ART and other antenatal care medications, making sure that she did everything that she could to ensure that she would give birth to an HIV-free baby. When she delivered her baby boy in June 2014 she was rewarded with a happy and healthy baby. However, even after the baby’s birth, Hope knew that she needed to stick to her treatment plan to keep she and her new son healthy. She continued to follow her doctor’s medical plan for the newborn, following a breastfeeding plan and giving her son the recommended Nevirapine syrup, followed by septrine for the first year of his life. Throughout this process, Hope brought her son to the clinic where he received his three, scheduled HIV tests. After the third and final test, at one and a half years old, the baby boy was confirmed HIV negative!

With her son confirmed HIV-negative, Hope was ready to celebrate the accomplishment with her family and friends! When thinking about the bright future that awaits she and her young son, Hope says that she is grateful to God and AMS for the guidance, care, love, and support that she received along the way.

Now Hope is doing her part to spread education and ensure that more children are born HIV-free. Hope helps advise other HIV positive women about the importance of working closely with medical staff and adhering to their treatment plans in order to give birth to HIV-free babies.

When you support the AMS EMTCT (elimination of mother-to-child transmission) program you are supporting the dreams of women like Hope. Thank you for believing in our work and for investing in an HIV-free generation!

*Hope is not the woman’s real name, but was used to respect her privacy. 

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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
$34,877 raised of $50,000 goal
 
259 donations
$15,123 to go
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