UKRAINE: MAMA +® Project for the Prevention of Abandonment of Children Born to HIV-Positive Mothers
Ukraine faces one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics in the world, and within the country, women represent an increasing proportion of adults diagnosed with HIV. In 2001, women represented 38% of the HIV-positive adult population, whereas by 2004, 42% of women accounted for those newly diagnosed with HIV. As the overall number of HIV-infected women grows, so does the number of HIV-positive mothers. In 2004, 2,200 children in Ukraine were born to HIV-positive women. These women receive very little support enabling them to care for their children, resulting in a child abandonment rate of ten to fifteen percent.
Based on successful results in Russia, HealthRight International implemented the MAMA +® project, which provides medical and social services to HIV-positive pregnant women and new mothers, in three Ukrainian cities: Kyiv, Simferopol, and Donetsk. The MAMA +® project empowers women to keep their newborn children in the face of the many challenges ahead, including adjusting to their HIV-status, discrimination, lack of family support, and difficult economic or other life circumstances. The MAMA +® project helps these often marginalized and disenfranchised mothers to gain the confidence, knowledge, skills, and other assets to retain guardianship of their children. By creating a stable, loving home, these new mothers can improve their children’s prospects for a successful future.
Identifying women at risk
HealthRight establishes partnerships with maternity hospitals, AIDS Centers, and other local organizations, who refer HIV-positive pregnant women at risk of abandoning their children to the MAMA +® project. Our case management teams provide counseling and comprehensive HIV information, and create a long-term plan for further assistance for women who choose to participate in the program.
Providing comprehensive services
MAMA +® centers offer community, support, and other social services for clients. Infant day care enables mothers to attend vocational training, job interviews, legal appointments, or access other services. The MAMA +® team also provides support to HIV-positive mothers and their families through counseling and family visits. Referral networks with public and non-governmental agencies assist families to access welfare support, education, job placement, and provide care for children, such as nutritional support and medicine.
Reducing stigma and discrimination
The MAMA +® project reduces stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS in social services and in client’s own families through training activities, peer networks, and support groups.
Developing local systems and capacity
By partnering with the local NGO All Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (AUN/PLWHA) in the implementation of the MAMA +® project, as well as collaborating with local public health institutions and State social services, HealthRight works to build local capacity and long-term prospects for support of HIV-positive mothers. These vital partnerships ensure that MAMA +® develops local roots to enable its continuation for the long term. As of Fall 2007, the AUN/PLWHA will independently continue to provide its own MAMA +® services in three sites in Ukraine.
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