'Stepping Stones PLUS' - supporting women in their quest for safe motherhood
April 4, 2012 - When Jane Awino suspected she was pregnant, she went to the local hospital for a check-up.
Her pregnancy was confirmed, and she was asked to bring her husband to the clinic, where HIV testing has been made routine. Jane recalls:
"After much prodding, he agreed to accompany me, but he refused to be tested. After the test, it turned out that I was
positive. When my husband heard about it, he just turned violent and beat me senseless, and chased me from the home, together with
Community elders attempted to save the marriage through mediation, but all their efforts were in vain. Jane and her five
children now live with her mother.
This is a true story. It happened in Western Kenya, where a survey found that 95% of pregnant women did not disclose
a positive HIV diagnosis to spouses and relatives for fear of stigma, discrimination and violence. Similar stories occur throughout
the world. The fear of rejection, discrimination and violence prevents hundreds of thousands of HIV-positive women from accessing
the health care they need to prevent passing HIV on to their children. And every year, 370,000 children - mostly in sub-Saharan
Africa - are born with HIV.
In June 2011, world leaders met at the United Nations headquarters in New York to launch a global plan with an ambitious
objective: to reduce the number of children born with HIV by 90% by the year 2015. It is technically possible to achieve this objective.
Providing pregnant women living with HIV with antiretroviral medication and appropriate support helps them to have babies born free of
HIV - and in safety for them both. With these measures in place, the likelihood of a child being born free of HIV can thus now be more
Governments, UN agencies, private philanthropic organisations and international NGOs have the capacity to provide the
financial resources and the technical know-how to produce an HIV-free generation.
Yet many obstacles still block the path to achieving this objective. Chief among these are deeply entrenched, discriminatory
attitudes, held at many levels, towards people living with HIV. The stigma, discrimination and denial which still accompany HIV have the
effect of deterring millions of women worldwide from accessing the simple, low-cost health services which would protect their unborn
children and also keep them alive and safe. These are issues which communities themselves also need to address.
A 140-page manual - 'Stepping Stones PLUS' - aims to support communities in tackling HIV-related stigma, discrimination and
denial and promoting the care, respect and support for people with HIV which is the crucial missing ingredient. Produced with support from
UNICEF and three international NGOs, 'Stepping Stones PLUS' is a supplement to the internationally renowned 'Stepping Stones' training
manual, published in 1995 by the Strategies for Hope Trust and ActionAid.
Designed for use after groups have completed the original 'Stepping Stones' manual, 'Stepping Stones PLUS' contains new
sessions and additional exercises for existing sessions. Lead co-author, Dr Alice Welbourn, says:
"The contents are designed to promote a whole-community response to the epidemic through appropriate care and support and
the involvement of people living with HIV in all aspects of programmes. It will be particularly useful in working with community groups
to support women with HIV in their quest to have babies born free of HIV, in safety for both mothers and their children."
Previously available only as a CD, 'Stepping Stones PLUS' has now been produced - in English and French - in printed form. Selected
pages can be viewed on the Strategies for Hope website: www.stratshope.org/t-plus-manual.htm . To
order copies, please contact TALC: firstname.lastname@example.org ; www.talcuk.org ; tel.: +44 (0) 1727 853 869.
For additional information about 'Stepping Stones', please contact www.steppingstonesfeedback.org . For all other enquiries,
please contact the Series Editor, Strategies for Hope Trust: email@example.com .
(With thanks to IRIN/PlusNews: http://www.plusnews.org/Report.aspx ? ReportId=81054.)
For more information about 'Stepping Stones', please see .
Strategies for Hope Trust
"Reproduced with permission - The Strategies for Hope Trust "
The Strategies for Hope Trust