For many women in Lesotho the joy of finding out they are pregnant is tempered by the fear that they will pass on HIV to their baby.
In 2008, Matumelo Hlaele, 31, and her husband both tested positive for HIV.
“Mamofela, a Red Cross volunteer, started visiting us in 2009,” says Matumelo. “She helped me accept my status and talked to me about how to cope with the disease. And with her support I faced the challenge of telling my friends and family.
“Although I was okay about my status, I knew I wanted another baby. But when I found out I was pregnant I was worried.”
Red Cross support
Fortunately with Mamofela by her side, Matumelo was guided through her pregnancy, attending the local clinic in Thabanaa Morena and getting the treatment and care she needed to prevent passing on HIV to her unborn child.
Mamofela says: “As soon as women find out they’re pregnant we encourage them to get tested. We work closely with the clinic and help women learn about protecting the baby while it’s in the womb, during the birth and also the first months of its life during breastfeeding.”
For people living with HIV and especially mothers who are breastfeeding, getting enough nutritious food is vital for maintaining their health. But many families affected by HIV struggle to eat well.
“Since my husband got healthy again he works in other people’s gardens, but doesn’t earn much,” Matumelo says. “I would like a better life for me and my family where we can put a good meal on the table every day.”