HIV-positive mothers giving birth to HIV-free children

World AIDS Day is December 1. This story from Zambia is an example of how World Vision continues to come alongside families and communities affected by HIV, giving them the resources they need to live healthy, hopeful lives.

By Kwenda Paipi, World Vision Zambia
Published November 14, 2012 at 12:00am PST

At one time, it was almost a guarantee. If a pregnant woman in rural Zambia had HIV, she would most likely give birth to an HIV-positive baby.

Aluchi Nabotwe, a 32-year-old mother of six who lives in the community of Chilala, remembers the situation well.

“There are a lot of babies who died in this area,” she says.

But today, thanks to advances in HIV medication and more clinics that are specifically dedicated to HIV treatment, most children are not infected by their mothers.

Aluchi, who is HIV-positive, is benefiting from a new HIV treatment clinic in her community. The anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) that she gets there help her stay in good health and take care of her family.

Memories of past struggles

Melita Musasa, 41, is also benefiting from the new clinic.

The mother of three went through an excruciating experience when she found out she was HIV-positive back in 2000. At that time, there were no medical facilities in her community that adequately dealt with HIV.

Instead, patients had to travel over 50 miles to access medication. The journey took a two-day bicycle ride — or a very long walk.

“The lack of antiretroviral treatment was very detrimental for those of us who were found to be HIV-positive,” she recalls. “The distance to travel was long and frustrating.”

A helping hand in the fight against HIV

But for Melita and others needing ARVs in her area, the agony of traveling such a long distance is over.

“I no longer travel for more than a day now, because I just walk a few kilometers to Chilala when there is a need [to go to the] clinic,” she says.

With support from Hoops of Hope, World Vision has helped establish a clinic for HIV treatment in Chilala. Aside from filling prescriptions and monitoring the health of those living with HIV, the clinic also offers prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), as well as a device that tests the strength of patients’ immune systems.

Thanks to the clinic, Melita was able to access PMTCT services while she was pregnant — and deliver a baby who tested negative for HIV.

The clinic provides various kinds of counseling for both children and adults. So far, 400 patients have benefited.

Made possible by donors

Kikopa Mwewa, officer in charge of HIV treatment at the clinic, thanks donors and World Vision for helping people in the area to have access to HIV-related interventions.

“In 2005, World Vision helped us with the PMTCT building, including the building where mothers come to access services for antiretroviral treatment, where we conduct various services,” Kikopa says. “This is where people come to be tested for HIV.”

Without the assistance, he says the health center would not be in a position to effectively render services.

“We have recorded a lot of people who are HIV-positive, and we are able to deliver HIV-free babies from positive mothers,” he says. “We have cases where both the mother and father are HIV-positive, but they have an HIV-free baby.”

In honor of World AIDS Day, December 1, World Vision is working to create more success stories like this one in communities that are still hit hard by HIV.

Learn more

Read more about World Vision’s efforts in the fight against HIV and AIDS on the World Vision Blog.

Read more about World AIDS Day, coming up on December 1, and learn how you can be involved.

Four ways you can help

This World AIDS Day, pray for those who are affected by HIV and AIDS — children, families, and entire communities. Pray that the international community would know their suffering and take collective action to fight this humanitarian crisis.

Make a one-time donation to help us prevent the spread of HIV from mothers to children. Your gift will help provide HIV testing, prenatal and postnatal care, counseling for HIV-positive mothers, HIV awareness programs, and support for local clinics in places like Zambia, where HIV still threatens lives.

Sponsor a child in a community affected by HIV and AIDS in Zambia. Your love and commitment to a boy or girl in need will help deliver basics like medical care, nutritious food, clean water, and education — the foundations of a healthy, hopeful future.

Contact your members of Congress and voice your support for the International Affairs Budget. This budget, which makes up just 1.4 percent of the overall federal budget, funds critical programs to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS around the world. There are few spots in the federal budget where dollars translate so directly into lives saved.