Fighting HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia: Preventing Transmission of HIV to the Unborn Child
Sister Sada with a patient
© The Global Fund/Guy Stubbs
Fighting HIV/AIDS Published in Ethiopia: Preventing Transmission of HIV to the Unborn Child
HIV-positive women often learn their status when they attend a prenatal clinic where all pregnant women are encouraged to get tested.
Sister Sada, who works at the Makele AIDS clinic, has guided many women through the frightening process from discovering they have the HIV virus to ensuring their child does not. Her clinic is one of almost 400 across the country.
Free antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for the mother through pregnancy and beyond and a one-off dose for the newborn, are paid for by the Global Fund. The drugs, combined with safe delivery and safe breastfeeding (WHO recommendations) techniques, help to ensure newborns do not inherit their mother’s disease.
This is a great source of relief for pregnant women, affirms Sister Sada, but it can take a while for the reassurance to take effect.
Encouraging husbands to get tested too
When women first learn they are HIV-positive they are afraid. “They are crying and we don’t talk about the [positive] status … to their husbands. We counsel them” says Sister Sada.
As the women come to terms with their status, they are encouraged to bring their partner in to get tested too. For men, acting in the interest of their unborn child can be a strong motivator to check their HIV status and take responsibility for their family’s health.
At the Makele ARV therapy clinic, Sister Sada soothes the worries of young couples concerned for the health of their child and their own health. Prevention is one of the key messages repeated in her clinic sessions. If necessary she gives advice on AIDS treatment, ensuring patients adhere to their course of medication so that the whole family faces up to the responsibility of living with HIV.
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