RUSSIA: MAMA+ Project for the Prevention of Abandonment of Children Born to HIV-Positive Mothers
With the number of HIV-positive pregnant women increasing by more than 50% annually in Russia, abandonment of babies is becoming increasingly common; reports indicate that as many of 20% of children born to HIV-positive women are abandoned in their infancy. Institutionalization in orphanages is known to have dramatic adverse effects on children, while conditions are even worse for children who are segregated because of their HIV status.
DOW’s MAMA+ project provides HIV-positive new mothers and pregnant women with services to empower them 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 keep their children within the birth family environment. By creating a stable, loving home, these new mothers can improve their children’s prospects for a successful future.
Identifying Women at Risk of Abandoning their Child
DOW establishes partnerships with maternity hospitals, AIDS centers, substance abuse specialists, and other local and national organizations that refer HIV-positive pregnant women at risk of abandoning their babies to the MAMA+ project. Case management teams provide counseling and comprehensive HIV information; a plan for further assistance is created for women who choose to participate in the program.
Providing Comprehensive Services
MAMA+ Centers in St. Petersburg, Gatchina, and Vsevolozhsk provide a central community, support, and services center for clients, including day care for infants while mothers receive services or attend legal appointments, vocational training, or job interviews. The MAMA+ team also provides support to HIV-positive mothers and their families through family visits and counseling. In addition, the team assists the family in accessing welfare support, education and job placement, and provides care for children, such as nutritional support and medicine.
Reducing Stigma and Discrimination
The MAMA+ project has helped reduce 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
DOW establishes local partnerships for community-based MAMA+ implementation. These vital partnerships ensure that MAMA+ develops local roots to enable its continuation for the long term.
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