Note From the Field: Global Fund Premieres Video Showcasing Foundation's Work in Kenya to Eliminate Pediatric HIV/AIDS
October 6, 2010
A video featuring the Foundation’s work fighting pediatric HIV/AIDS in Kenya
premiered this week on the Global Fund’s website as part of its Born HIV Free campaign
. In August, a video crew from the Global Fund office in Geneva visited two Foundation-supported programs in the eastern and western regions of the country.
The resulting video, titled “Esther and Gacheri,” showcases two women in Kenya’s Eastern Province:
Esther is a mother living with HIV in Ishiara village. Gacheri is a community support worker who counsels women and families about the day-to-day realities of living with HIV.
Esther tells the story of how she and her husband unknowingly lost three children in a row to AIDS
, before she was diagnosed as HIV-positive. Their life changed when they joined a community group led by Gacheri, a counselor with the Foundation’s “Zingatia Maisha”
psychosocial support program.
Zingatia Maisha, which means “carefully consider life” in Kiswahili, was initiated by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), working together with local partners and with funding by GlaxoSmithKline.
Through the program, Esther received treatment and counseling, and the couple now has two young children who were born free of HIV.
“What I find so motivating is seeing immediate change,” Gacheri told the Global Fund crew. “You see a woman who is so happy having an HIV-free child – that gives me the motivation every day.”
Thankfully their story is now one of many in Kenya, proving that prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) can indeed work in resource-challenged environments like Ishiara.
A team from the Foundation also took the Global Fund crew to Kakamega provincial general hospital in Western Kenya, where nurses have been trained in PMTCT, and these services are fully integrated with overall maternal and child health services.
There the team met support groups of mothers who are helping each other adhere to treatment and give birth to HIV-free babies, as well as ensuring that any of their children who are HIV-positive follow their treatment faithfully.
Health workers at the facility are very enthusiastic about their work to prevent new infections in children, a dramatic improvement from a few years ago, when many clinics in Kenya knew very little about HIV or how to stop mother-to-child transmission of the virus.
At this facility, nurses heartily welcome their patients, and help them understand that HIV is a condition that can be managed. As a result, stigma has been drastically reduced, and the facility is even seeing patients come to the clinic from outside their usual geographical area. More pregnant women are accessing PMTCT services, with newcomers supported by the moms who have gone before them.
This week the Foundation recognized the U.S. Government’s increased investment in the Global Fund
, and the commitment of both to eliminating HIV and AIDS in children. The story of Esther and Gacheri is just one example of how we will achieve this goal.