World Aids Day 2011

World AIDS Day 2011.

Two-year-old Joylet, her mother’s pride and joy, loves to run and play, laugh and sing! All made possible by the support of people like you for our work preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS. Photo credit: Naomi Kalemba/Save the Children

Will you help us bring hope to more mothers and children in need?

Meet Joylet: A Child Born of Hope and Joy

In observance of World AIDS Day 2011, read the story of Zeria and her baby girl Joylet. Zeria was diagnosed as HIV-positive while pregnant with Joylet. A mother’s worst nightmare! Thanks to your support, both mother and child are healthy and happy today. Learn how you can help prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS, bringing hope and joy to more mothers and babies, like Zeria and Joylet.

Horror and fear…

Zeria, a young wife and mother from Malawi, was horrified to be diagnosed as HIV-positive while pregnant with her fourth child, and haunted by fears:

- Will I transmit the virus to my unborn child?
- Will my baby be sick – or even survive?
- Will I? What will become of my children?
- Is there any hope for our family in need?

Physically ill and sick with worry for her unborn child, Zeria recalls: “The thought of being HIV-positive and pregnant was horrifying. I thought of my unborn child and feared my baby would be born HIV-positive.”

Zeria’s fears were not unfounded. Without help, about one-third of HIV-positive mothers transmit the disease to their children – putting both mother and child at great risk for HIV-related complications and even death.

In addition, the family is poor, living and working on a small-scale farm, producing just enough to survive from one growing season to the next. So a major illness or the death of a parent could easily have destroyed the family’s financial, not to mention emotional, stability.

… Turned to hope and joy!

But thanks to your support, Zeria learned how to live positively and productively with HIV – and to protect her unborn child. She participated in Save the Children-funded, community-based counselling and services designed to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV and AIDS. Soon Zeria was overjoyed to give birth to a healthy baby girl, and she named her Joylet.

Now 2 years old, Joyet loves to run and play, laugh and sing. All the things that healthy, happy kids are supposed to do. And Zeria now leads a growing support group for others in the community who are HIV-positive, helping to change HIV-related attitudes and behaviors.

Because of your support, Joylet and her siblings are alive and well, continuing to receive the care, love and support from their mother that they need to thrive. Zeria’s hopes for Joylet: that she will be healthy, work hard at school and grow up to be a teacher!

Save the Children envisions a world where children and families can live free of HIV infection and in which families that are affected by HIV/AIDS can live positively and productively without stigma and discrimination.

Read more about our HIV/AIDS programs

More About World AIDS Day 2011

Despite all the progress made so far to combat the HIV and AIDS epidemic, on this World AIDS Day 2011 we are still facing the reality that 2.5 million children are living with HIV. With 1.4 million pregnant women also living with HIV, many new infections may be transmitted this year.

In addition, 5 million young people living with HIV are entering their reproductive years. Although prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) coverage is improving, significant barriers to testing, losses to follow up, and missed opportunities for timely diagnosis and treatment remain.

At the UN General Assembly Special Session in June this year, donors and the UN community pledged to eliminate Pediatric HIV by 2015. Save the Children endorses this Global Plan and the related 10-point plan for accelerated country action.  We already play an important role in expanding access and uptake of preventative services related to pediatric care in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Malawi, Uganda, Mozambique, and South Africa. 

Save the Children recognizes that to achieve the goal of eliminating Pediatric HIV, the base of services must be broadened to achieve greater coverage, scale, and continuity of care. Better integrated health policies as well as more coordinated donor funding are critical to ensure that implementers overcome this divide.

Save the Children plays an important role in expanding access and uptake of PMTCT and related pediatric care and contributes to global technical and advocacy materials.  Our technical excellence is widely recognized for our leadership in maternal, newborn and child survival through our work on Saving Newborn Lives, Community Case Management of common childhood illness, and Community Management of Acute Malnutrition.

In addition, the Save the Children’s EVERY ONE Campaign aims to mobilize 60 million people globally to take action on behalf of maternal, newborn and children health. In collaboration with Save the Children’s HIV and AIDS Global Initiative, this includes efforts to reduce pediatric HIV, and support treatment access for those living with HIV.

As our efforts to combat this worldwide epidemic continue to expand and grow, Save the Children is partnering with UNAIDS across Africa on this day to emphasize the fact that urgent and exceptional action is required at all levels to curb HIV and AIDS’ devastating effects.

“Getting to Zero” must become a reality in Africa if we are to improve child survival and maternal health.