|AVSI event in Rome marks 10 years of children born “Free” of HIV in Uganda|
On this year’s U.N. World AIDS Day, December 1, AVSI will celebrate 10 years of helping HIV positive mothers give birth to children “Free” of HIV/AIDS. To mark the occasion, AVSI and the association “Medicine and the Person” are collaborating to sponsor an event in the prominent Sala della Promototeca hall of the Campidoglio, the residence of the mayor of Rome.
Ten years ago in Uganda, AVSI added the strategy of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) in order to extend its continued efforts to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Featured in the Dec. 1 event will be the contents of a report on the research, strategy, outcomes reached and stories of the mothers and infants affected over those 10 years, during which AVSI expanded its provision of PMTCT to support 4 hospitals and 37 health care centers. The print document will be supplemented and brought to life by a short documentary filmed in Uganda and a photography exhibit recording the history.
The meeting will tell the story of these major hospitals and health centers in northern Uganda, through which over 197,343 Ugandan women have received pre-natal care, 94% of whom accepted to be tested for HIV. The high percentage, considering the local social stigma connected to AIDS, shows a great trust of the patients for the health care providers.
Of the expecting mothers identified with HIV through the AVSI program, 60% chose to receive treatment. To these, anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs are administered to the mother during delivery and to the infant within 72 hours of birth. Following this, continued administration of drugs is accompanied by education and monitoring of proper breastfeeding, which reduces the likelihood of transmitting the HIV virus to the child by 70%.
The benefits of the PMTCT program extend beyond the prevention provided directly to mothers and children. By encouraging male partners to be involved in the care of mothers and children, AVSI extended the reach to 43,411 men who received HIV prevention services. An attention in program activities to the households and communities to which mothers are tied led to social and economic strengthening activities offered for beneficiaries. The program, therefore, had a ripple effect improving the overall quality of health services and strengthening entire families and neighborhoods.
Attendees include international professionals working on the prevention of HIV/AIDS such as Amolo Okero, Technical Officer, Prevention in the Health Sector, World Health Organization, representatives local to Uganda including Dr. Linda Nabitaka, PMTCT Monitoring & Evaluation Manager for the Ministry of Health in Uganda, Dr. Lawrence Ojom, director of AVSI-supported St. Joseph Hospital in Kitgum, Dr. Zikulah Namukwaya, director of the PMTCT program at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala, and Ketty Opoka, NGO coordinator for Meeting Point Kitgum. Also present will be the venue’s host, Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno, as wells as Italian Senator Alfredo Mantica, Dr. Carlo Federico Perno, professor of virology at the University of Tor Vergata (Rome), with concluding statements by AVSI Secretary General Alberto Piatti.
Archive: AVSI-USA in the fight against AIDS in Africa