More than 300 pregnant and lactating women in Chibiri and Gaube communities in Kuje, Abuja have received free HIV counseling and testing services at Mother’s-Love Parties organized by the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN).
Mothers-Love Party, which is an IHVN initiative, is a gathering for women and children in communities to sensitize women on care for their babies, personal and environmental hygiene, the importance of immunization and registration, and antenatal care. In such parties, IHVN also provides mother-care packs for women with items such as sanitary pads, gloves, and cotton wool, amongst others.
IHVN Senior Program Officer, Mrs. Helen Mutong said “By organizing Mothers-Love Parties, IHVN aims to increase awareness, enhance access to services, and ultimately reduce the transmission of HIV from mother to child. This strategic approach ensures that all pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and pediatric patients receive the necessary support and care for a healthy outcome in line with the overall Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) strategy.”
During the mother’s love parties in Kuje, free malaria, hepatitis B, and syphilis tests were also provided for attendees, including children between the ages of 1-14 years.
Mrs. Mutong added “we have seen that some pregnant women do not go to the hospital to access care, so we are bringing care to them. Most of the women would rather have their children through Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs). We work with the TBA to ensure safe deliveries and referral to the nearest health facility.”
Other strategies being adopted to reach women in communities include collaboration with religious leaders to create awareness about the need for HIV testing especially for pregnant women.
One of the pregnant women who got tested, Mrs. Ona, (pseudonym) expressed her joy at the initiative. “Most times, we do not have transport to go to the hospital and when we go, they give us a list of things to buy so we just decide to have our baby at home, but today, IHVN has shared these packs that have everything we need for delivery, so I am very happy,” she said.