Tag Archives: Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

When HIV Positive Mothers Speak: Preventing HIV in Infants

This post was originally published on the Gates Foundation’s blog, Impatient Optimists.

“After I lost Nomthunzi, my life was never the same again. I cried for a long time.” Despite the grief of losing her husband and baby, Nomthunzi, to AIDS, Florence Ngobeni-Allen pressed on and became an ambassador for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) to educate women about the importance of HIV testing and stopping the transmission of HIV to their babies.

Times have certainly changed for many who live with HIV/AIDS.  Where once being diagnosed HIV positive was a definite death sentence, particularly in the developing world, many people can now live and thrive with HIV/AIDS, including babies.

Nine-hundred babies are born with HIV each day, according to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF). In a recent online discussion with the foundation, bloggers were told that without treatment 50 percent of these babies will die before their second birthday. Today, around the world, 34.2 million people are estimated to be HIV positive and 3.4 million of them are children.

Two of the foundation’s ambassadors, Florence Ngobeni-Allen and Martha Cameron, are HIV-positive. They are also mothers who spread awareness to other mothers about mother-to-child transmission of the virus (passing the virus from the pregnant mother to her baby, in utero).

They stress to mothers globally that even though they may be HIV-positive their babies don’t need to be born with the HIV virus. In fact, 100 percent of all mother-to-child transmission of HIV is preventable. During the discussion both Ngobeni-Allen and Cameron repeated that the first step in decreasing the rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV is through testing. When a woman knows her status she can prevent her baby from being born with HIV.

Martha Cameron grew up in Zambia and watched as countless members of her family passed away from AIDS, including her mother when Cameron was only 23-years-old. After severe bouts of illness both in the United States and Africa, Cameron tested positive for HIV in 2003. Despite her status, Cameron got married in 2007 and shortly thereafter she and her husband decided to have children.

“For African women it is such a big deal,” said Cameron. “It’s dignity for a woman to have children.” Through education from her doctors and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV Cameron has delivered two HIV-negative babies and her husband continues to be HIV-negative as well.

Florence Ngobeni-Allen’s story is different because she lost her husband and her baby daughter, Nomthunzi, to AIDS in South Africa in 1996 and 1997 respectively.

In those days there were “no antiretroviral medicines available for children at that time in South Africa,” Ngobeni-Allen wrote in her personal story. Now, Ngobeni-Allen is a wife and mother of a HIV-negative son and husband.

Today there is no reason for babies to be born HIV-positive. Through early testing, education, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV every baby can be born HIV-free.

UNAIDS Hosts First Google+ Hangout

Today, UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, held their first Google+ hangout with UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, global ambassador for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Florence Ngobeni, and HIV/AIDS activist and singer Annie Lennox.

With World AIDS Day quickly approaching on Saturday there are many conversations about HIV/AIDS and what needs to be done in order to completely create an AIDS-free generation. You can watch the hangout below. It lasts roughly 30 minutes.

Some key tweets from our Twitter handle and others at the #ZeroHIV hashtag are below.

Join the EGPAF Google+ Hangout Tomorrow

Every single day, 1,000 mothers — some unaware they carry HIV — transfer the virus to their babies during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Without treatment, 50 percent of HIV-positive infants will die before their second birthdays. As global leaders, researchers and activists descend upon Washington, DC for the International AIDS Conference, we must ask: What are the challenges HIV-positive mothers face in having HIV-negative children in the AIDS epidemic? We are at an important moment in the effort to create an AIDS-Free Generation. How do we keep the momentum going?

Join the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and us tomorrow Wednesday, July 25th at 2:00pm ET for a live Google+ Hangout on the International AIDS Conference and AIDS epidemic with Mom Bloggers for Social Good and EGPAF Ambassadors Florence Ngobeni-Allen and Martha Cameron. EGPAF ambassadors will answer these questions and share their own personal stories as HIV-positive mothers raising HIV-negative children.

RSVP for the event and we encourage you to submit questions for EGPAF ambassadors in the comments:

Be sure to add EGPAF to your Google+ circles before the event:
https://plus.google.com/117044910560603917571/posts?hl=en

Florence’s Story of Hope:
http://bit.ly/uPDwqS

Martha’s Story of Hope:
http://bit.ly/qtWZnD

For real time updates on the International AIDS Conference follow EGPAF on Twitter, Facebook or visit our IAS blog http://egpaf-ias.org.

Ask Congress to make a mother’s fight their fight!

Every single day, 1,000 mothers — some unaware they carry HIV — transfer the virus to their babies during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Without treatment, 50 percent of HIV-positive infants will die before their second birthdays. With your help, we can eliminate pediatric AIDS, and protect mothers and babies worldwide. Lawmakers face many tough budget choices this year, but continuing to fund global HIV/AIDS programs should be an easy one. We are at a crucial moment in the effort to create an AIDS-Free Generation and need to keep the momentum going.

As policymakers descend on Washington, D.C., for the International AIDS Conference, ask congress to make a mother’s fight their fight! Please use this link to write your Senators and Representatives a letter to keep Congress committed to this fight and oppose cuts to global health programs. We also urge you to ask your readers and followers on your blog and across your social media channels to use the link and get involved too. The more mothers, the greater the impact we can have!

Our friends at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation have provided Facebook covers that you can rotate and add to your profile page. Feel free to grab any of the covers below.

New Partner Announcement: Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

We are so excited to announce a partnership with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation!

Founded in 1988, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation is a worldwide leader in the fight to end pediatric AIDS. The organization works in 15 countries to implement lifesaving HIV programs, to advance pediatric AIDS research, and to advocate on behalf of those affected by HIV/AIDS. Today, because the work of the Foundation and its partners, more mothers around the world have access to the tools they need to have healthy, HIV-free children.

Elizabeth Glaser contracted HIV through a blood transfusion in 1981 while giving birth to her daughter, Ariel. She and her husband, Paul, later learned that Elizabeth had unknowingly passed the virus on to Ariel through breast milk and that their son, Jake, had contracted the virus in utero. After Ariel lost her battle with AIDS in 1988, Elizabeth rose to action, creating a foundation to support children, mothers, and families affected by HIV/AIDS.

Read more from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and connect with them online.