Mother-to-Child transmission of HIV/AIDs is almost entirely preventable and in the western world pediatric AIDS has been virtually eliminated.
Yet in sub-Saharan Africa, millions of babies still die from HIV/AIDS-related illnesses. Limited knowledge about how the virus is transmitted, social stigma and discrimination often prevent women from being tested and treated. SCOPE set out to tackle this problem by using the most trusted community leaders—the religious leaders—to help halt the transmission of HIV between mother and baby.
Fenta is 38 years old, is seven months into her sixth pregnancy and has a history of miscarriages.
When Fenta first visited Woleka Health Center, she was having a miscarriage. After that experience, she did not want to return to the clinic for any reason. However, after talking with the SCOPE-trained priests and the women volunteers, she was convinced to come back to the Woleka clinic during her present pregnancy for an exam and HIV test. She has since returned three times.
“Thank you for encouraging me to come to Woleka Health Center to get care for my unborn child.”
SCOPE’s new project at Woleka Health Center in Gondar, Ethiopia, trains priests and female volunteers about HIV/AIDS, stigma and the importance of antenatal care, equipping them to enter their communities and identify pregnant women in need of care.
“I am changed, and I am changing others.”
~ Trained female volunteer
Pregnant women then receive regular antenatal care, are tested for HIV and, if positive, are treated so that their babies are born HIV negative and the mothers stay healthy. Already, SCOPE’s PMTCT (Prevention of Maternal to Child Transmission) project has resulted in increased numbers of pregnant women not previously in care receiving care at Woleka.
“We received a three day training and now we are educating others continuously. It is the will of God to change others’ attitudes and get them to come to the health center for the service. It is good and we have to save ourselves as well as our children.”