Doctors without Borders (MSF) recently piloted an HIV integration healthcare programme called Postnatal Clubs with HIV-infected mothers and their uninfected babies in the township of Khayelitsha in Cape Town.
The pilot, which was launched in partnership with City of Cape Town Health and mothers2mothers – an international NPO dedicated to preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV through education and support – seeks to keep mothers and their newborn babies involved in participating in ongoing healthcare check-ups for the full first 18 months of the baby's life.
The number of HIV transmissions have reduced from 16,000 in 2010 to 5000 in 2015. However, most of the problems remains after birth.— Dr Aurelie Nelson, Doctors Without Borders
About 4% of the babies become positive by 18 months.— Dr Aurelie Nelson, Doctors Without Borders
So, we've tried to create an intervention to keep the mother in care because after they've had their babies, they often stop taking their treatment and, to make sure the baby will keep testing until they reach 18 months of age.— Dr Aurelie Nelson, Doctors Without Borders
The Postnatal Clubs allows HIV-positive mothers to participate in group discussions, benefit from early childhood group activities, and also offers support from specialised nurses and trained HIV counselors.
Since its establishment in the township, statistics have shown that 82% of mothers have remained in the care of Postnatal Clubs for the full 18 month period compared to the low retention rate of standard HIV care programmes at 34%. Within the 18 month period, not one of the 100 newborns who formed part of the pilot programme had been infected with the virus.
Joining on the line is Dr. Aurelie Nelson, an HIV doctor with Doctors Without Borders explains how Postnatal Clubs are keeping breastfeeding HIV-positive mothers from infesting their HIV-negative newborn babies.
All the pregnant women who are HIV positive are put on ARVs to prevent transmission and, its very effective.— Dr. Aurelie Nelson, Doctors Without Borders
They can safely breastfeed if they take their treatment and have an undetectable viral load... which means that they can't transmit the virus to their babies.— Dr. Aurelie Nelson, Doctors Without Borders
Safe breastfeeding is possible as long as mothers stay on treatment and stay in care.— Dr. Aurelie Nelson, Doctors Without Borders
What we see is after the moms have had their babies, a lot of moms stop taking their treatment because of chaotic lives basically after having a baby.— Dr. Aurelie Nelson, Doctors Without Borders
Read more about the Postnatal Clubs model and listen to the full interview_**:**