Every 90 seconds, a baby is born with HIV in the world. Without treatment, UNICEF estimates, one-third of those infants will die before their first birthday and half before their second. The U.N. agency has made it a mission to achieve a generation free of HIV and AIDS. It says the key to eliminating HIV in infants lies in preventing transmission of the virus from mother to child in the womb. When a mother has access to antiretroviral therapy, the likelihood of HIV transmission is virtually zero.
But most people in the world who are living with HIV or who are at risk of contracting it do not have access to any methods of prevention, care or treatment. Fifteen percent of mothers are not able to afford delivery in a hospital or other facility, and 95 percent of HIV-positive mothers must travel more than 6 miles for any type of maternity care. Ninety-seven percent of all people living with the virus reside in low- and middle-income countries.
One of these locations is in India’s Dindigul district, where mothers receive little support for medical care; every year, about 120 of these women are identified as HIV-positive. The MEERA Foundation, a women’s health and welfare organizations, has built strong partnerships with health centers in the district to ensure care, and it aims to support expecting mothers by providing transportation, covering medical expenses and buying food for them and their families.
If you’d like to help, you can read more about the MEERA Foundation’s project at its Chime for Change website or donate to UNICEF’s Global Fight Against AIDS on its website. For more information about how you can prevent HIV and AIDS, visit aids.gov.