NASANKHA UMOYO PMTCT PROJECT
The Nasankha Umoyo (I choose Life) Prevention of Mother To Child HIV Transmission (PMTCT) project targetswomen of child bearing age of 16 to 45 years and HIV+ couples in the rural communities with limited PMTCT information and services. The project has been named in a local Tumbuka language so that people can understand better and have ownership of the project. HIV/AIDS remains a big problem in Malawi.
The project is being implemented in the remote hard to reach communities of Nkhamanga in Rumphi district. Prostitution is rampant. Prostitutes are Most at risk groups (MAPS) of HIV transmission, thus drivers of the epidemic.Cultural practices, low literacy levels due to high school dropouts and early marriages which put girl child at risk in tobacco fields is common. This is compounted by inaccessibility due to geographical isolation ,few health centes, medical staff, and hence the inhabitants have limited access to health services including PMTCT services and HIV and AIDS information and VCT services.
This situation therefore requires availability of effective and more accessible HIV prevention, care and treatment services.
The project is supported by ViiV Healthcare through Positive Action For Children (PACF). The project implementation technical assistance is provided by Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF)
The goal: Is to increase access and uptake of PMTCT services using community based approach.
- Increase uptake to quality PMTCT services through Promotion of male and community involvement.
- To increase accessibility to HIV Counseling and testing for women and their partners (including provider initiated testing and counselling).
- Reduce sexual transmission among HIV- discordant partners through Prevention with Positives (PWP).
- Provide care and support to all HIV exposed infants at facility and community level.
- Build strong partnership with key stakeholders in the community, health centre staff, chiefs, religious leaders, community volunteers, sex workers and traditional healers
- Increase knowledge and participation of women in PMTCT through the formation of Women Study Circle Groups (SCG) in the community to promote HIV/AIDS information
- Involve sex workers in PMTCT initiatives
- Formation and ensuring functionality of Mothers living with HIV &AIDS (MLWHAs) support groups
- Due to lack of information on PMTCT and HIV/AIDS in the communities that we serve we found out some of the issues which we addressed. Herewith some of the issues.
- Some Women who were tested HIV+ were sharing ARVs with their husbands, who were not tested for HIV. The husbands were thinking that if the wife is HIV+ then its automatic they are also positive.
- Some HIV+ women don’t report their HIV status to their husband after test at the antenatal clinic despite being counselled due to fear of divorce and culture. Also some pregnant Women were not attending ant natal clinics because they were afraid of HIV test.
- Most of the children who were born through PMTCT procedures were not being followed up and mothers were not willing to test their children because they assumed that the children were already HIV +.
- More pregnant women have been tested for HIV, through door to door and community campaign meetings; this is a big success because of our initiatives.
- The DBS results for 16 children tested were HIV negative which represents 100%. These are the women we started with in September 2011 when the Nasankha Umoyo was initiated. LICO will continue doing the follow up tests on these children as they grow.
- Through this project more people have been reached out with PMTCT information and services.
- More Condoms have been distributed, 10,100 and 400 female condoms because we have increased the accessibility of condoms in the community.
- The Follow up HIV positive pregnant mothers in their homes leads to involvement of men because couple counselling is done and men gets tested for HIV.
- Couple counselling of discordant couples in their homes has helped to strengthen the marriages
- The number of pregnant women attending ant natal clinic has increased at the health centre from the communities we implement the project.
Sex Workers Training
LICO trained 10 sex workers as peer educators. Sex workers play an important role in HIV prevention if given the required information. Involvement of sex workers in the PMTCT project has increased the number of sex workers getting tested for HIV, disclosure of their status and ARV treatment adherence. LICO supplies condoms to the peer educators who share to their friends.