by Jeremy Bogen, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
More than 350,000 babies are born with HIV every year, and almost all of these in developing countries. This is already a lower number than just a few years ago, but it is still 350,000 too many.
Today we are at a critical point in the fight against AIDS: great progress has been achieved, and mother-to-child transmission can be prevented with the right treatment — but we need to maintain enough global support to ensure that this progress can continue.
Since 2002, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has been at the forefront of the battle against HIV and AIDS, including the prevention of mother-to-child transmission. With enough support, it is possible that no child will be born with HIV by 2015.
The following slideshow tells the story of a family in Rwanda fighting the disease and stigma that often accompanies it, with the support of a health center financed by the Global Fund.
With World AIDS Day quickly approaching us this Thursday, when you look at these images, bear in mind that we could be the generation that saves future generations from the burden of HIV and AIDS.
Felix and Marie Claire are both teachers. He teaches social studies, she teaches English.
Marie Claire was pregnant with her second child when they found out she was HIV positive at a prenatal consultation like this one at the Miyove Health Center.
Claudine is in charge of identifying and treating mothers living with HIV in the area. She helps Marie Claire and women like her to take drugs and follow safe procedures to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV, so that by 2015 no child will be born with HIV.
At first Marie Claire said it was shocking for both of them to find out about their status, but they received counseling and they are living normally now.
They told some family members, and some of the neighbors. Marie Claire says "we feel that the burden is shared." The children stay with their grandparents when the parents are at work.
"Once I knew my situation when I was pregnant I had no fear because I was told that with medication I would have a healthy child," says Marie Claire. Both little boys, now aged 4 and 6, are free of HIV.
"Something has changed, there was a before and after," says Felix. HIV prevention is included in the school curricula. Felix was teaching it to 15 to 17 year olds even before he knew about his own status. He says it's different now because he lives and experiences what he teaches. Young people still fear AIDS, but he teaches zero discrimination.
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Photos © The Global Fund / John Rae