Photographs Highlight Zimbabwe’s Fight Against HIV in Women, Children, And Families
October 6, 2009
Contact: Agnes Mahomva
Exhibition Commemorates 20th Anniversary of Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
A photography exhibition highlighting the achievements in expanding and supporting the national HIV prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programme was showcased today by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF). The exhibition — held at the National Art Gallery — was officially opened by the Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. H. Madzorere, and attended by Chargé d’affaires, a.i. of the U.S. Embassy, Donald Petterson. Also in attendance were EGPAF President and CEO Ms. Pamela Barnes, other officials of the government of Zimbabwe, the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID), United Nations agencies, and international and local AIDS service organizations.
The exhibition was organised by the Zimbabwe EGPAF country team in commemoration of EGPAF’s 20th anniversary. Starting from three mothers around a kitchen table in the U.S. in 1988, EGPAF is now a world leader in supporting children and families in their fight against HIV/AIDS, supporting HIV services at more than 3,900 sites and in 17 countries.
EGPAF’s Zimbabwe Family AIDS Initiatives (FAI) programme has been supporting the national PMTCT programme in Zimbabwe since 2001, with resources provided by the United States Government through USAID. Through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the programme hopes to receive an additional $2.8 million this year to ensure pregnant women with HIV who need treatment are initiated on antiretroviral therapy, and for rapid scale-up of combination antiretroviral prophylaxis — the most effective means of preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
The programme is also supported by DFID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Johnson & Johnson. These resources have enabled EGPAF and its three implementing partners — JF Kapnek Trust, the Organization for Public Health Interventions and Development (OPHID), and the Zimbabwe AIDS Prevention Project — to provide direct support for PMTCT service provision to more than 600 government health facilities, in more than 28 districts and 3 cities in Zimbabwe, and to more than 545,000 women. About 66,000 women living with HIV have been identified within the programme, and the majority of these women and their infants have received medicines to prevent HIV transmission.
The exhibition, a collection of more than 30 compelling photographs, highlights the multiple facets of the PMTCT programme, from provision of health care services to community support initiatives. The exhibit includes the powerful testimonies of mothers, fathers, and children who have all been supported by the PMTCT programme, as well as the stories of dedicated health care workers.
One such story is that of Patience Mapfumo and her son Josphat. Patience explained the impact of the support she received: “I realised I wasn’t alone and that my baby didn’t have to be born HIV-positive. I did what I was told and I have been blessed with an HIV-free son.”
However, the photographs also depict some of the challenges the programme continues to face, including lack of disclosure of HIV status and low levels of male involvement. Piniel Chauruka, a member of an HIV support group, explained, “‘Many men come, but at first they don’t admit their status. They ask questions and we know they are HIV-positive. We reassure them and help them come to terms with their illness. Our support group is like a family. We sing and dance, we talk and we teach, we laugh and we cry. But everyone is equal.”
Throughout its 20th anniversary year, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation is inviting people worldwide to join the moment and commit to: eradicating pediatric AIDS; supporting women, children, and families living with HIV; and ultimately realising a generation free of HIV. To learn more, visit www.pedaids.org/jointhemoment
About the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation is a worldwide leader in the fight against pediatric AIDS. Its innovative research programs, collaborative training initiatives, advocacy efforts, and rapidly expanding international prevention and treatment programs are bringing dramatic changes to the lives of children worldwide. To learn more about the Foundation’s work in Zimbabwe, visit www.pedaids.org/OurWork/InternationalPrograms/Zimbabwe.aspx