Why World AIDS day matters to mothers : Annie Lennox
On World AIDS Day, our guest blogger Annie Lennox explains how the HIV epidemic is spreading - and how AIDS hits pregnant women the hardest. She shows what we can do to save HIV positive mothers and babies around the world.
Imagine that you've just discovered you're pregnant and HIV positive. How would you feel? Devastated? Overwhelmed? In despair?
Would you be terrified about what was going to happen to the baby you're carrying? Would you be in turmoil as to whether your child would be born with the virus or not? Or whether you'd be able to survive long enough take care of them and see them grow up? Who could you turn to for information, support or advice?
If you live in the UK, America, or a European country, then you would probably be able to get counselling. You'd be prescribed medical treatment, with a clear explanation as to how to take it.
But of the 1.4 million pregnant women living with HIV each year, ninety percent are living in sub-Saharan African. In some African countries, one in three pregnant women are HIV positive. There are an estimated 14 million orphaned children in Africa - many of their parents died from AIDS-related illnesses.
With broken down health care systems, many of these expectant mothers fall through the cracks, having no access to support, information or treatment. Of all babies born HIV positive, half will die before they reach the age of two, unless they receive treatment.
This is where mothers2mothers comes in. They can transform a situation full of despair into one of hope and empowerment.
Mothers2mothers work directly within the community at a grass roots level. They give expectant mothers counselling, guidance and practical support, with the objective of delivering HIV negative babies. They also deliver lifesaving treatment to mothers, so they can live healthy lives and bring up their families.
Through their unique, innovative approach and methodology, mothers2mothers continues to save the lives of thousands of women and babies every day: in Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. m2m leads the way, setting the gold standard in terms of prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV. As a longstanding HIV AIDS campaigner, I feel honoured and privileged to be associated with the exceptional work of m2m.
If you believe, as I do, that every child should have the right to be born HIV free, and every mother should have the opportunity to access lifesaving treatment, then support m2m and become a part of the process towards the end of paediatric AIDS.
The Annie Lennox Foundation is a supporter and donor of mothers2mothers. Annie is the UN AIDS Ambassador and a tireless campaigner against AIDS/HIV. The singer-son tweets as @AnnieLennox and you can find her on Facebook.