AHF trains women on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV

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By Justina Auta

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), an NGO, on Thursday, trained women living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the FCT on prevention of transmission of the virus to infants.

The orgnisation’s Country Director, Dr Echey Ijezie, said during a one-day workshop for participants across the six area councils of the FCT, that the initiative is under the Mentor Mother programme to Prevent Mother-to-Child Transmissions (PMTCT) of HIV.

He said the training was to train mentor mothers and Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) in prevention of HIV to infants.

He added that “we want to generate a good network of mentor mothers who benefitted from the prevention, treatment and care services given to HIV positive pregnant women.

“We are doing this across states of the federation by identifying mentor mothers to work in communities. And as they work in communities, they encourage other mothers to access free treatment.

“Free treatment is given to all women living with the virus to protect their unborn children. The essence is to have a generation of children that are HIV-free.”

Ijezie explained that the organisation also trained some mentor mothers in Anambra, Nasarawa, Benue, Kogi, Cross River and the FCT to support and counsel HIV positive women in overcoming stigmatisation and to access healthcare.

He said “if people share their experiences and are willing to talk about their status openly, it serves as an encouragement to other members of the community, that there is nothing
to be afraid of and living positively is not a death sentence.

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“We want our babies to be born HIV negative. So, we’re training women and empowering them to ensure they work in communities where they live.”

Mr Steve Aborisade, the Advocacy and Marketing Manager of AHF Nigeria, who noted the gaps in the HIV delivery system, stressed the need for treatment to prevent having children with HIV in the country.

He said “it is important that we bring women from the community where they live themselves to speak to other women and get them to come for antenatal care.

“Once a woman attends an antenatal clinic, it is compulsory for her to be tested for HIV and if found positive, she gets on to the treatment programme immediately, and that guarantees that the child will be born HIV-free.”

Mrs Christy Awunor, the AHF states Nursing Coordinator, emphasised the role of mentor mothers to include support during antenatal care, HIV testing, care and treatment services for newly diagnosed HIV positive pregnant women.

He explained that “mentor mothers are HIV positive mothers who were once pregnant and have HIV-free babies.

“They encourage other positive pregnant women in communities to ensure reduction or total elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV.”

On her part, Mrs Grace Ungbian, one of the newly inaugurated mentor mothers, revealed that she adhered to the medical directives and treatment,
which prevented her from transmitting the virus to her children.

She said “my last child is about 17 years old now but because I passed through PMTCT, she is negative.

“When I see pregnant women, I try to get close to them, so that they can go to the clinic to know their status,” she said.

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Awunor also encouraged HIV positive persons to overcome stigmatisation and ensure they access healthcare to improve their chances of survival and prevention of transmission.

It will be recalled that the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) during the 2023 World AIDS Day celebration revealed that Nigeria currently has 1.8 million persons living with HIV, out of which, 1.63 million on Antiretroviral Therapy. (NAN) www.nannews.ng

Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu

Philip Daniel Yatai

Principal Correspondent, NAN Abuja

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