United Methodist Committee on Relief

World AIDS Day: Working Towards An AIDS-Free World

By Kathy Griffith*

World AIDS Day, December 1, is an opportunity to unite people worldwide in the fight against HIV. It’s a day for people to gather in remembrance of those who have died and support individuals living with HIV.

The Abundant Health: Our Promise to Children initiative, affirmed at General Conference 2016, calls us to reach 1 million children with lifesaving interventions by 2020. Today, we share stories that demonstrate the tremendous impact your gifts make in helping us fulfill our promise to children with parents living with HIV.

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Zinash, 38-year-old mother living with her husband in Ethiopia.
Photo: Dawit Talihun

“First, I want to say thank you and extend my heart gratitude for the PMTCT (Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission) project and the organization that runs it.

“Both my husband and I have been positive for the last four years, but we have managed to have a HIV-negative,handsome baby boy. You see, he is very healthy. He was tested for HIV at 6 weeks, and the results were negative. There will be another testing at 9 months and 18 months. I will stop breastfeeding him at 18 months, as I was told by my counselor in the hospital. In addition, I will continue taking my medicine regularly and take my baby to our nurse for check-up and treatment.” 

Many mothers with HIV are scared to get pregnant because of the fear of transmitting HIV to their child. However, through programs such as PMTCT that fear is alleviated and hope renewed.

“I am happy and able to do my daily chores effectively,” Zinash said. “In our support groups, we are all happy with the PMTCT program and we mothers are not afraid of getting pregnant. Furthermore, I am now a counselor to my friends. One of them is pregnant and had fears that her baby would be infected just like her firstborn. I have ensured that she knows that the baby is protected in the womb and will be delivered in hospital as I did. I am with her in terms of psychosocial and knowledge support to ensure she attends all her prenatal appointment and finally delivers safely. My fellow Peer Educator can testify with me that we are not going to allow further infections!”

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Shamim, 42-year-old mother in Pakistan.
Photo: Kashif Kamran Khan

“I have HIV.”

In 2009, when Shamim first learned of her positive status, she feared the stigma that the virus carried with it. More importantly, she was afraid of the impact this would have on her children’s lives and future. “I was afraid and I didn’t even know where to access the services,” she said. “So, I stayed home.”

In October 2015, Shamim got involved with the Multan Diocese of the Church of Pakistan who works with PMTCT to tackle HIV and AIDS. They were partially funded by theUnited Methodist Global AIDS Fund (UMGAF). Here, she could develop relationships with other people living with HIV, learn more about the virus, and gain access to treatment and resources.

The Global Health HIV program works to mobilize and appropriate funding to support projects around the globe that prevent the spread of HIV, provide care to those living with HIV/AIDS and improve access to testing and treatment. Our work also help increase the capacity of communities to respond to HIV/AIDS and combat stigma around the world. We prioritize the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. We work in partnership with the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund

Become a part of the vital work of reaching 1 million children with lifesaving interventions today by giving to the Global Health Advance #3021770 or by supportingHIV/UMGAF Advance #982345.

 Learn more about the Abundant Health Initiative and the UMGAF projects 

*Kathy Griffith is Program Manager, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, General Board of Global Ministries.