Treating Mothers, Protecting Babies

In a small village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, access to HIV testing and treatment can be a challenge. Dr Rob is part of a team aiming to change that...

MSF Doctors Without Borders DRC HIV

In the picturesque village of Lubonja, pregnant women attending the small clinic do not currently have access to HIV testing or treatment.

Here in the hills, people live over a large area with some women walking three hours to attend the basic antenatal services.

MSF Doctors Without Borders DRC HIV

Identifying HIV during pregnancy is particularly important as providing treatment not only keeps the mother in good health but will also drastically reduce the risk of transmission to her baby from around 40% to 1%.

HIV is often much more aggressive at a young age: without treatment, approximately half of all infected children will die before their 2nd birthday.

MSF Doctors Without Borders DRC HIV

We are in the process of training staff on how to counsel and test women in the antenatal clinic here and will be providing treatment and follow up for those who test positive.

Thanks to improvements in treatment regimens, this is no longer as complicated as it once was, making this kind of decentralization of HIV service much more practical.

MSF Doctors Without Borders DRC HIV

While there is still a long way to go, access to HIV testing and treatment is gradually being increased, not just in the DRC but worldwide.

This global initiative will lead to a decreased number of new infections and will give many more people the chance to live a long and normal life with what is, in reality, a very manageable disease.

See more of my photos from DRC on Instagram.