Prevention Of Mother-To-Child Transmission in South Sudan: Hosanna’s Story
As the rate of HIV/AIDS rises in South Sudan, CMMB continues to respond with comprehensive treatment, care, and prevention initiatives at the Yambio State Hospital.
Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission
Because no baby should start life with a positive diagnosis for HIV, testing for HIV is a routine part of antenatal care globally, and in CMMB-supported health facilities, all mothers-to-be who are themselves HIV positive receive HIV counseling, testing, and if found positive, immediate enrollment onto antiretroviral therapy. With this support, women can plan for a safe pregnancy and an HIV-free start on life for their children.
Hosanna James is one young woman who learned that she was HIV positive when she came to CMMB for antenatal care.
Hosanna, 22 years old, is the loving mother of two—her younger child only 18 months of age. Hosanna lives in a poor community with little economic opportunity. Her parents died when she was very young, and Hosanna was left in the care of her grandmother, who could not afford to send her to school. With no education, Hosanna married and had her first child early.
Her family’s life is hard. To feed the children, Hosanna and her husband sell crops from their garden; sometimes Hosanna makes bread to sell at the market. The family survives on the equivalent of US$20 per month, and having food on the table is never guaranteed.
Learning Her Status
When Hosanna visited Yambio State Hospital for antenatal care, she was tested for HIV. When the results showed her to be positive, Hosanna was flooded with feelings. “I was afraid of what people would think of me after they learned my status—my community is not always kind to those who have HIV. I was scared of what would happen to my baby.” Hosanna neither ate nor slept for days.
But then her sister intervened. Aware of the resources available through CMMB, Hosanna’s sister brought a counselor to visit. The counselor encouraged Hosanna to come for regular counseling to come to terms with the diagnosis. “For one month I saw a counselor,” Hosanna relates. “The counseling made me realize that I had to rise up and seek treatment for the sake of my children. I am living today because of CMMB and its kind staff, and I thank God for them.”
Living with HIV
Because Hosanna learned her status early in her antenatal care, she was able to take the critical precautions during her pregnancy to all but eliminate the chance that her infant would become infected during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Today, thanks to treatment at the CMMB-supported health facility in Yambio, Hosanna’s baby is happy, healthy, and HIV free. Hosanna continues to follow CMMB health workers’ instructions to preserve her own health and that of her baby.
Hosanna says that she will always encourage other women to get tested. “I was tested early, and because of that, my baby is safe. My viral load is still low, and I will take care of myself so that I can live to watch my children grow. The earlier you go for testing, the better chance you have at life. All women should put their health first—we are the mothers of the world, and our children are the future.”
We are proud to share Hosanna’s story. She inspires us to continue the work that we do. Not only can Hosanna look forward to a happy life; she also stands as a role model for other women. Her story shows the importance of HIV testing and early treatment toward achieving a South Sudan where all children live happy, healthy, and empowered lives.