ERD launches mother-to-child HIV/AIDS program with support from MAC AIDS Fund
Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) has been awarded a grant from the MAC AIDS Fund. The grant will help launch the program, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT), a partnership between ERD and the Zambian Anglican Council (ZAC), in Livingstone, Zambia. The award is for year one of the program with a possibility for additional funds in 2008.
Worldwide, there are 40 million people living with HIV and AIDS with two million succumbing to the virus each year. Southern Africa remains the epicenter of the pandemic. In Zambia, people have limited access to counseling and testing so that many women who are pregnant may not be sure of their status. Even if they know their HIV status, they may be unable to secure treatment. A lack of maternal health services denies many expectant mothers a healthy and safe birth. For the newborn baby of an HIV-infected woman, this means that they are at 40% risk of contracting HIV during or following their birth. HIV prevalence is a significant factor in keeping infant mortality rates unacceptably high in Africa.
ERD is working with the ZAC to launch the PMTCT program that targets pregnant women for a community-wide educational and treatment program. The project will be conducted through the Livingstone Anglican Children’s project in the regions of Ngwena, Maramba, Namatama, Libuya, and nearby compounds in the Livingstone area.
“Episcopal Relief and Development is honored to have been awarded this grant from the MAC AIDS Fund,” said Robert W. Radtke, ERD’s president. “This generous support will help ERD further its work in the area of primary health and save the lives of vulnerable people worldwide, particularly newborn babies.”
Through this program partnership, ERD is educating mothers and their partners on key preventative mother-to-child transmission methods, mobilizing pregnant woman to access information about PMTCT, and providing voluntary counseling and testing. PMTCT also aims to increase awareness and knowledge of sexual practices among women of childbearing age, prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS to children, and encourage participation in the health centers’ post-natal services.
Pregnant women will be recruited to serve as counselors. The counselors will teach other pregnant women the connection between the transmission of the HIV/AIDS virus and pregnancy, labor, delivery, and breastfeeding. Women will also learn techniques that can prevent transmission of the disease at each of those stages.
“This is such an affirmation for the women involved in this program. These are mothers finding a way to live with HIV. They are determined to give their new babies the best possible start in life,” said Janette O’Neill, ERD’s senior director for Africa Programs.
Nancy Mahon, vice president of MAC Cosmetics and executive director of the MAC AIDS Fund, said, “Evidence from North America and Europe shows that providing a mother with a full range of PMTCT services can reduce the risk of transmission to less than two percent. Despite the current statistics in Zambia, by partnering with ERD and supporting its work, we are hoping to reduce mother-to-child transmission in the region to zero.”
The MAC AIDS Fund was established in 1994 by MAC Cosmetics to support men, women, and children suffering from AIDS. With profits from the sale of the company’s highly successful VIVA GLAM lipstick collection, MAC has provided more than $90 million for the MAC AIDS Fund.
To make a contribution to help people affected by HIV/AIDS, donate to the HIV/AIDS Fund at http://www.er-d.org or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to: Episcopal Relief and Development, HIV/AIDS Fund, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116.
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