Tomorrow (1 December) marks World Aids Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection.
This is critical, especially considering that Stats SA an estimates 21% of women in South Africa, in the reproductive age (15 — 49 years) is HIV positive. This number has not significantly reduced or increased in the last 15 years.
Dr Thirza de Jong from Orange Babies says: “In our Mother and Child Health Centre in Lehae we are seeing more than 25% of women in the reproductive age that test for HIV, test positive. While Mother to Child Transmission (MTCT) rates are declining, the number of women testing positive is still high — showing that we need to focus on education around prevention.”
This ties in significantly to the 2017 Theme for World Aids Day: The right to know. Prevention is my responsibility.
According to a survey undertaken last year, results showed that in South Africa, of girls aged 15 — 19 years old, 16% had started childbearing, 12% had already given birth and 3% were pregnant with their first child. This is a concern, as teenage pregnancy is one of the main indicators of poverty.
Lucy Jones, marketing director at Philips Personal Health Africa, comments: “To empower a woman means you empower the community and this is exactly what our Mother and Child Care division is all about. We believe every mother and baby deserves the best care possible — before, during and after a newborn enters the world and, through our clinically proven Developmental Care solutions and educational services, we are focused on doing exactly that.
“What’s more, there are many myths and issues about pregnancy and breastfeeding when HIV positive and it is critical that these are dispelled for transmission prevention.”
De Jong adds: “It is the responsibility of both corporate South Africa and organisations such as ourselves to place a strong emphasis on HIV education to drive down numbers and ensure that our mothers and babies are armed with the knowledge that they need to live healthier, preventative lifestyle. Prevention is everyone’s responsibility.”