A story of hope
The joy that Ling (not her real name) felt when she discovered she was pregnant soon turned to sadness when an antenatal check revealed that she was HIV-positive. Eleven days after the baby arrived, another harsh blow struck when the young woman's husband died of AIDS.
"It was like the heaven collapsed and crushed my whole body. My mind is filled with the tears that never dry up," the 26 year old woman said. The most blessed thing was that she gave birth to a healthy boy, thanks to the UNICEF-supported Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) project.
Ling said her four-year-old son looked like his father, especially his beautiful clear eyes.
PMTCT is accomplished by giving the HIV positive mother antiretroviral treatment during the antenatal period, performing a Caesarean section during delivery and exclusive artificial feeding for newborns provided the formula can be safely prepared and is sustainable.
Since the program started in Dehong Prefecture, one of the HIV and AIDS- high prevalence areas in Yunnan Province, China, 38 mothers have delivered babies whose tests confirmed they were HIV-negative by the age of two.
UNICEF also provides transport for local health workers in the area to help them reach hard-to-access villages to provide subsequent check-ups for newborns and postpartum women living with HIV.
Ling is also receiving a UNICEF micro credit loan and skill training. She used it to raise pigs and plant sugarcane and coffee trees, and last year she opened a grocery shop.
"The first time I stepped into Ling's house, all I saw was a wretched and despondent woman with tears streaming down her face,” said Ms. Tang Quanyu, a local All-China Women’s Federation health officer who has been monitoring Ling’s health as well as the progress of her baby. "Now, I see someone whose face is blossoming with smiles. And I have witnessed many women rising from despair to hope."