UNICEF Helps Pregnant Mothers Living with HIV in Haiti
Asset Duration: 03 min 05 secs
Shoot City: Port-au-Prince
Shoot Country: Haiti
Shoot Date: 17 Jun 2011
Life has become complicated for this teenage girl in Port-au-Prince.
She's six months pregnant and HIV-positive, and living in a tent with her aunt. A few months ago, she left her boyfriend, who gave her HIV and is the father of her child.
She says, "I broke up with my boyfriend because he carried a gun and lived a life of crime, even killing people. My mother didn't want me to stay with him."
We'll call her Clodine Gerard – not her real name.
Her father died in the earthquake, and since then, she hasn't attended school. The one bright spot in her life at the moment is a UNICEF-supported clinic that diagnosed her status early.
"This clinic is helping me by giving me free medicine for my HIV, by making sure that I am healthy, and by giving me food," she says.
UNICEF and is partners know that HIV is part of every emergency. And that it's crucial to maintain HIV services, including preventing the transmission of the virus from mother to child.
Youssouf Sawadogo is a UNICEF HIV/AIDS specialist . He says, "HIV/AIDS is one of the focus areas for UNICEF and we are working with our partners to alleviate the suffering of this population, to try to improve access to care, treatment and support to women and children, particularly in the area of prevention of mother to child transmission."
The community clinic where she receives treatment is seeing hundreds of pregnant women a month – not all of them HIV positive. The services in the antenatal clinic are completely free.
Out in the community, women like Clodine face many obstacles, including the stigma of being HIV positive. For now, she's keeping her status a secret.
Living in a camp further complicates matters.
"In the camp setting, you have a lot of risk and vulnerability situations," says Sawadogo. "And these women and children are left on their own. If we don't do anything, these women and children will not have equitable access to care and treatment. And that's why we are trying, with our partners, to improve and bring services to these camps and try to make this aftermath of the earthquake more bearable."
The years ahead will prove challenging for women like Clodine. Protecting their health and the health of their babies is one challenge that must be met head-on.