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The impact of HIV treatment and prevention services for mother and newborn child in Tanzania

14 October 2013

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If you are born with HIV, at best you will spend a lifetime, on medication to keep the virus at a manageable level. You have to acknowledge your own responsibility for your health on a daily basis, as well as the stigma and fear directed at people living with HIV that unfortunately is still prevalent in society today.

It’s a heavy burden, something you played no part in acquiring , and a burden that we work hard to prevent being passed on to the next generation.

You may not know, but if you are pregnant and HIV positive, it doesn’t mean your child will be HIV positive as well. With early treatment, you can stabilise your health and protect that of your baby, so that they are born HIV free.

But some people are not fortunate enough to have HIV treatment and services readily available to them.

That is why in Tanzania, we are funding MDH – Management and Development for Health – an organisation established by the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative to improve the health care services for people in Tanzania.

We support MDH programmes that prevent mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT).

MDH send health workers out to meet with pregnant mothers in their homes, to find out if they have not been tested for HIV, and if found HIV positive to book them into the clinic for their first appointment.

The antenatal care programme for HIV positive pregnant mothers provides access to tests and treatment. So far, 84,521 pregnant mothers have been tested for HIV, of which 4,362 were found to be carrying the virus and were able to be put on treatment.

Staff training and constant quality assessments across all levels of the programme ensure that more mothers and their children now have access to HIV treatment and support. 65,674 pregnant women have delivered at an MDH clinic, of those 3,547 were HIV infected. And of those infected women, only 123 of their babies were found to be carrying the HIV virus by 18 months of age.

Whether through maternal, newborn or child health services – each programme allows mothers to maintain their health and that of their children so that no one needlessly becomes sick or puts their lives and livelihoods at risk because of HIV.

The results from MDH show the real life impact such treatment and prevention programmes can have on protecting the next generation from HIV/AIDS.

In October 2013, Sir Elton John was awarded the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative Award for his and the Foundation's support of MDH and the significant impact our funding has contributed towards people living with HIV/AIDS in Tanzania.