The President of Malawi Dr. Joyce Banda paused during the launch of the National Nutrition, HIV and AIDS Project on February 28, 2013 at the Bingu Wa Muthalika Conference Centre in Lilongwe, Malawi, to examine a display of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) communication materials produced by the BRIDGE II Project.
“We encourage couples to go for HIV testing immediately when they realize that they have conceived since HIV testing is an entry point to successful prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV. We also emphasize the support that women need from their husbands starting in pregnancy, during labour and delivery, while breastfeeding and throughout lifetime Anti-Retroviral (ARV) treatment,” explained BRIDGE II’s Senior Behavior Change Intervention Manager Triza Kakhobwe-Hara in her presentation to Dr. Banda.
In addition to the PMTCT chart that attracted the President’s attention, the BRIDGE II display included the Tasankha! Discussion Guide, Couple Counselling Guide and Positive Prevention Toolkit, all produced to support the PMTCT Option B+ national program. The PMTCT Option B+ program provides an ARV regimen for life to all pregnant and breast-feeding mothers that are HIV positive, regardless of their CD4 count. The Ministry of Health in Malawi began implementing this new program to reduce the number of babies born with HIV and help mothers remain healthy during pregnancy and following delivery.
BRIDGE II is supporting the Ministry of Health by producing messages and materials to promote awareness on PMTCT Option B+. For example, the Tasankha! Discussion Guide includes a module on PMTCT Option B+ to start discussions at the community-level and help people understand how to reduce their children’s HIV risk. Plans to carry out couple retreats on PMTCT are also under way in some districts.
The USAID-funded BRIDGE II Project is implemented by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Centre for Communication Programs (JHU.CCP) in partnership with Save the Children International, PACT Malawi, International HIV/AIDS Alliance and local partners. BRIDGE II is an HIV prevention program aimed at promoting normative behavior change and increasing HIV preventive behaviour among the adult population in Malawi.