“In the United States today maybe in a year 100 babies will be diagnosed with HIV. In Africa, [it is] a thousand a day,” said Dr. Mitch Besser, co-founder of m2m.
m2m’s work is especially important in Africa; 90 percent of HIV-positive babies are born in sub-Saharan Africa and 75 percent of the world’s HIV-positive pregnant women live in 12 African countries.
According to Besser, “the problem in much of Africa is that there are simply not enough health care workers to guide HIV positive women through a safe pregnancy and childbirth.”
m2m currently operates in nine sub-Saharan countries, employing 1,765 mothers living with HIV who work in 714 sites in these countries. The organization has reached 20 percent of the pregnant women living with HIV in the world.
COMING UP WITH A SOLUTION
Dr. Mitch Besser proposed a remarkably simple solution: training local women as mentors to support and educate HIV pregnant mothers on preventing mother-to-child transmission. These “Mentor Mothers” become professionals as they work alongside doctors and nurses to help fill the gaps in critically understaffed health systems.
“mothers 2 mothers, enrolls every year about 300,000 mothers with HIV – new mothers. That’s 20% of the HIV infected mothers in the world,” Dr. Mitch Besser told ABC News.
ABC News’ senior health and medical editor and brother of Dr. Mitch Besser stressed the importance of the issue. “We don’t have to have any more babies infected with HIV any longer.”
“There are still too many babies born with HIV,” Clinton said. “The time has come to end pediatric AIDS worldwide. We know we can do it.”
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