Saving children from HIV
The project “Save a Child from AIDS” in Mexico City is a three-year program that helps mothers protect their children from infection with the HIV virus from the beginning of their pregnancy until the child reaches the age of two. Although HIV-infected mothers and pregnant women receive antiretroviral drugs for free from the Mexican government, there is a lack of education and follow-up during the treatment. Many mothers only see the negative side effects, and do not understand the importance of the treatment: meaning that they often drop out of the treatment program, or only use it irregularly – increasing the chances that their children will be infected with HIV.
Malteser International and Order of Malta Mexico support the mothers in three ways: First, they receive medical counseling, regular check-ups and follow-ups, ensuring the mothers continue the antiretroviral treatment. Educational sessions and trainings ensure the women have the information they need to prevent infection.
Second, the women receive nutritional support, as many live in poverty or lack access to nutrition information. They receive milk both for the babies and their siblings. To keep their defense system working well, normal infections such as the flu need to be prevented or treated immediately, so the project provides them with free medication.
Third, the projects also provide psychosocial support and counseling to the mothers, helping them deal with discrimination from their families and society. They receive psychological support in form of group therapies and individual talks. Because they are marginalized, many of the women have also lost their jobs and have no income. To get back on their feet again, the women learn how to make soap and other cleaning products, which they can produce themselves and sell for extra income.
According to UN statistics, 40.000 women in Mexico City live with HIV. Often, the women become infected at a very young age due to a lack of knowledge and awareness. These women also face discrimination and stigmatization and are often excluded from society: they lose their job, their partners and, as a consequence, the means to take care of themselves and their children.
Although the Mexican government disposes free antiretroviral medicine in certain hospitals, many infected women lack the information and/or the support of government authorities and take the life-saving medicine with strong side effects, if at all, only on a very irregular basis.
Especially during pregnancy, this leads to a transmission of the virus from the mother to the unborn child.
The objective of the project is to save (unborn) babies and children from recieving a life-threatening HIV infection from their mothers. The most dangerous phase is during pregnancy and in the first two years of the life of the child. In addition protecting the children and providing a safe and healthy environment, the project also focuses on raising awareness to prevent youth in secondary schools from becoming infected.
- Training of and support for women infected with HIV/AIDS in dealing with the illness during their pregnancy in order to prevent transmission to the unborn child.
- Training of the women in dealing with their newborn babies and small children.
- Creation of a safe and healthy environment for 60 newborn babies/small children and their siblings through training in handling child nutrition, provision of milk, food, hygiene items and medicine.
- Psychosocial care and livelihood activities for infected mothers to strengthen their self-confidence and enable them to generate income.
- Raising awareness among 6.000 adolescents at secondary schools about the risk of HIV/AIDS infection and its consequences.
Capital: Mexico City
Area: 1,964,000 km²
Population: c. 120 Million
Project duration: since July 2014
Donors: Ein Herz für Kinder (Bild Hilft e.V.), private donations
Partner: Mexican Association of the Sovereign Order of Malta
Last updated: January 2016